THE relieved owners of a Chapelhall car dealership have warned people to be “unbelievably vigilant” after a “rotter” almost scammed them out of a £41,000 Porsche using a coronavirus financial rescue scheme.
James Glen Car Sales was targeted by a con man who offered to buy the expensive sports car with a lump sum last Friday.
Stephen Bogan, who runs the Chapelhall industrial estate business with his dad Jim, received a call from near London from the brazen culprit, who had an English accent and called himself Brian.
But his offer to pay for the car in full by bank transfer raised suspicions with Stephen, who said: “He told me he was buying it for a corporate customer coming back from Dubai.”
Stephen then sent the man an invoice and, when the money arrived in the dealership’s account, Jim queried the payment with his bank.
The fraudster said his firm was called BBL Ltd and the payment had a “BBL” reference attached.
However, the bank revealed that the money was, in fact, from a bounce-back loan, a scheme set up by the government to offer interest-free funds to businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic and Stephen had the loan cancelled.
The scammer applied for the loan on behalf of James Glen Car Sales using information from the invoice and online data about the owners.
Jim said: “If we hadn’t been as vigilant, the boy would have got the car and, a year from now, we would have got a bank letter saying the £40,000 was due for repayment.”
Following their worrying near-miss, Stephen released a video warning other dealers and sellers to be “unbelievably vigilant”.
In his video, Stephen added: “I took a call yesterday from a guy looking to buy the car and it smelt a bit funny from the off.
“He wanted to not leave a deposit, he wanted to pay for the car in full which is, especially when you’re talking about a car north of £40,000, a bit care-free.
“I took the man’s details and raised an invoice and emailed him a copy of the invoice with the bank details on it.
“It’s a sports car, so generally you are wanting to know about the condition; all he said was what are the tyres like?
“The alarm bells were there anyway, so we proceeded carefully.
“We contacted the bank and asked if they could confirm the most recent payout to our account was legitimate and could not be withdrawn from our account at a later stage.
“We have not had a bounce back loan; we haven’t used one and we don’t intend to use one.
“This rotter has asked for an invoice with our bank details on it, which we have issued.
“He has gone online, he has got my date of birth, he has got the address of the business and he has applied for a f***ing bounce back loan in my name to the tune of forty-odd thousand pounds.
“All I can say is you need to be unbelievably vigilant for more absolute toe rags out there who are going to manipulate these bounce back loans.
“I’m absolutely seething, I cannot believe how angry I am.”
Thankfully, the firm had made the right checks with the bank before releasing the car.
Stephen said: “Had we not been so careful and double checked with the bank we would have put this car out, paid for by our own bounce back loan that we did not ask for.
“We have also spoken to the bank and we have asked what checks they have run and they should question their due diligence.
“We would have lost double because the car would have been gone.
“People are suffering during lockdown and are just getting themselves back on their feet and then this happens.”
Stephen has reported the incident to the police, who confirmed the matter is “under investigation” and asked people concerned about possible fraud to call then on 101.
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) was launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.
According to the latest Treasury figures, more than £45 million has now been distributed to businesses across the UK.