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Car showroom targeted by Covid-19 fraudster with eyes on £41,000 Porsche

UK News | Published: | Last Updated:

The scammer applied for a bounce-back loan on behalf of James Glen Car Sales in Airdrie.

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A car dealership almost lost a £41,000 Porsche after a fraudster took advantage of a Covid-19 financial rescue scheme.

James Glen Car Sales in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, was targeted by a man who offered to buy the Porsche Cayman with a lump sum on Thursday.

Stephen Bogan, who runs the businesses with his father Jim, received a phone call from the man, who had an English accent and called himself Brian.

But his offer to pay for the car in full by bank transfer raised suspicions.

Mr Bogan told the PA news agency: “I was suspicious from the word go. He told me he was buying for a corporate customer who was coming back from Dubai.”

Mr Bogan sent the man an invoice and when the money arrived in the dealership’s account, his father queried the payment with the Bank of Scotland.

The fraudster said his company was called BBL Ltd and the payment had a “BBL” reference attached.

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But 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.

The scammer applied for the loan on behalf of James Glen Car Sales using information taken from the invoice for the Porsche and data available online about the owners.

The dealership believes the man hoped they would assume the funds were from him, and allow him to drive away with a brand new Porsche.

Jim Bogan said: “If we hadn’t been as vigilant the boy would have come and got the car and then a year for now we would have got a letter from the bank saying the £40,000 loan is due for repayment today.

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“We wouldn’t have just got bumped for the 41 but for the price of the car so the total hit would have been the best part of £80,000.”

The father and son were critical of the Bank of Scotland for not doing more checks on the funds.

Jim Bogan, who has not reported the incident to the police, said: “They are not doing due diligence. There is no in-depth checks done.

“Nobody even phoned Stephen or I when the application was made.”

The dealership has now been contacted by other sales rooms who fear they may have been the victims of similar scams.

And it is urging others to be “very vigilant” in checking banking transactions.

“The old adage, if you hear something that’s too good to be true, it probably is,” Jim Bogan said. “People don’t buy a £40,000 car over the phone in two minutes from a random dealer they’ve never met.”

A Bank of Scotland spokeswoman said: “Helping keep our customers’ money safe is a top priority and, as per British Business Bank scheme guidelines, all bounce-back loan applications are subject to appropriate fraud checks.

“We take any reports of fraud extremely seriously and are fully investigating the circumstances of this individual case.”

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