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Car dealer issues warning after averting £80,000 Bounce Back Loans scam

Stephen Bogan, partner and director, James Glen Car Sales

Car retailers have been warned to be on their guard after a fraudster attempted to scam the James Glen Car Sales out of £41,000 and a Porsche Cayman sports car by exploiting the Government’s Bounce Back Loans (BBL) scheme.

Stephen Bogan, a partner and director at the prestige used car sales business in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, revealed that a businessman who offered cash to buy the car – transferring the funds hours later – had actually tried to pay for it using a Government loan erroneously applied for on James Glen Cars Sales behalf.

On Friday (July 10) Bogan posted a video online sharing his experience of the attempted fraud which was only prevented after the business “doubled checked” the sales transaction with their bank, warning other car dealers to be “on their guard.”

He said: “This rotter has asked for an invoice with our bank details on it, which we’ve issued, he’s gone online, he’s got my date of birth and the address for the business and he applied for a f**king Bounce Back Loan in my name to the tune of 40-odd thousand pound to make it look like he’s paid for this car and then expects us to release it when we’re comfortable that we’ve got the cash, which we have, but it’s our own bloody money because we’ve applied for the bounce back loan.”

Bogan said that his business only averted disaster because the speed of the transaction, in cash, and limited questions about the car aroused suspicion.

Enquiries to the Bank of Scotland revealed that the funds had been deposited from a Bounce Back Loan, with a 'BBL' reference attached to the transfer.

Bogan said that the potential “customer” had also revealed in his phone call to James Glen Cars that the name of his London-based business was BBL Limited.

If the scam had succeeded, Bogan said that his business stood to lose over £80,000, talking into account the value of the Porsche Cayman and repayment of the BBL.

He said that the James Glen business had no intention of taking advantage of a BBL, even as a genuine financial tool for the business in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Issuing his warning to other traders, he added: “You need to be unbelievably vigilant for more absolute to rags out there that are going to exploit these Bounce Back Loans.

“Had we not been so careful – double checked with the bank – we’d have put this car out paid for by our own Bounce Back Loan.”

He added: “We’ve asked the bank what checks they’re doing and said they should check their own due diligence.”

Back in May AM reported on ASE's warnings that car retailers who sought government support during the COVID-19 lockdown period were vulnerable to fraud as scammers posing as the HMRC launch an opportunistic fraud campaign.

ASE said that fraudsters are taking advantage of people’s anxiety and changes in normal routine and procedures to target both individuals and businesses.

It said that, with the first claims now submitted for both the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, it was now “the perfect time for scammers to contact you pretending to be HMRC”. 

ASE said that fraudsters are relying on the fact that the Government’s fiscal support schemes are new, so people will not be certain whether contact is part of the normal claims process, and also that claimants will be very keen to receive their money.

“The approach could be in the form of email, text or phone call and HMRC have updated their guidance to explain how to identify genuine contact from them”, ASE said.

“They also outline some reasons they are currently contacting taxpayers and what format this will take. 

“In addition, the accounting press has outlined that HMRC are calling to verify some Job Retention Scheme claims but when doing so they are able to quote parts of the claim reference number and are only verifying that a claim had been made by the claimant.”

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