A Ferndown auto dealer has been fined after being found guilty of advertising a clocked car and obstructing trade standards officers who came to his premises to investigate.
Abdul El Fortia (33) of Malmesbury Court, Malmesbury Road, Bournemouth was convicted by Poole Magistrates’ Court on 23 December 2021 for breaches of the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trade Regulation 2008. agent and for possession of counterfeit Nike training shoes that officers found on the premises. El Fortia had been a director of Ferndown Car Sales Ltd, operating at 13 Cobham Road: the company was also fined.
The court heard that the Dorset Council’s trade standards team had received a complaint from a consumer living in Scotland who saw the car, a VW Passat, advertised on a car sales website. He called the company and, after inquiring about the condition and history of the vehicle, paid a deposit and set a date to catch the plane to collect the car. He then carried out an internet search which showed that the car was a private rental vehicle registered in Portsmouth. Portsmouth City Council told him the car’s actual mileage – 312,000 miles, not the advertised 71,000 miles – and he contacted Ferndown Car Sales, who appeared surprised, and gave him a refund. He then complained to Dorset Trading Standards.
Trading Standards agents visited the garage where they identified themselves with an employee who showed them the service history of the car which had been altered to hide actual mileage. El Fortia told the court he fell asleep in a room next to the office and when he woke up and was told that the police were planning to remove the documents, he insisted that they left his garage, picked them up and became threatening. El Fortia testified that he did not know who these men were and he mistakenly believed that they needed a warrant to enter its premises. Officers returned at a later date with police support. El Fortia was again uncooperative, but on this occasion officers seized the papers relating to the car and 52 pairs of Nike sneakers found in the room next to the office.
The investigation found that the VW Passat car had been licensed as a taxi by Portsmouth City Council and was exempt from having a MOT as it was subject to the more stringent council regime. When it was picked up as a taxi, it had been partially traded in at a main VW dealer who auctioned it off on the internet only for trade at Ferndown Car Sales, still with the correct mileage. The car was collected from the VW dealer and on the same day the mileage was changed and the car then passed a technical check indicating the lower mileage. This MOT then appeared on the .GOV site, after a pause when no MOT had been performed. After the sale to Ferndown Cars, pages had been removed from the service history booklet to make it appear consistent with the lower mileage.
El Fortia has pleaded not guilty to all counts. He told the court that he allowed a number of other people to use his website to sell cars and his commercial auction website login credentials to buy them and that he received a small commission. to do this. Regarding the Passat, he said he didn’t know the mileage was wrong until the officers visited and he didn’t buy the car. He said that at the time of the officers’ first visit, he was feeling unwell and disoriented after waking up and had not threatened them. Asked about the sneakers, El Fortia said he was stocking them for a friend of his brother’s and they were not for sale. He admitted that he knew these were forgeries and was unable to explain why a coaching bill was issued to “Abdul”. He was found guilty on all counts after the October 19 trial.
On 23 December Ferndown Car Sales Ltd was fined £ 500 with costs of £ 1,000 and a victim fine surcharge of £ 50. El Fortia was fined £ 1,276, with costs of £ 1,500 and a victim fine surcharge of £ 127. He was also disqualified from being a company director for 5 years and a confiscation order was issued for the trainers.
The presiding magistrate said that reducing the car’s mileage was a deliberate act motivated by financial gain and that the role of trade standards was to protect everyone and that they should be applauded for bringing the matter to the courts. courts.
Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Client and Community Services, said:
“We take deceptive consumers very seriously. Our Business Standards team will continue to take appropriate steps to protect our residents from unscrupulous individuals who sell counterfeit or poorly advertised products.
“Consumers who want advice on vehicles or other goods and services they have purchased, or who want to report unfair or unsafe trade in trade standards, should call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or visit the site. It is the first point of contact for all consumers on Trading Standards matters.