Three men involved in a second hand car scam have been ordered to pay back almost £500,000 in a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.
The City Council's Trading Standards launched an investigation after receiving a large number of customer complaints about Tunstall Trade Car Sales, which had sites in Burslem and Tunstall.
It emerged that vehicles were being advertised for sale from the sites with full service histories – despite the services not actually being carried out.
Guiseppe Oliverio and his sons Giovanni Oliverio and Savatori Oliverio were convicted at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court in October 2017 for their conduct in connection with the business. Guiseppe, of Pinnox Street, Tunstall, who owned the business, was jailed for two years and eight months after admitting fraudulent trading, conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to apply false trademarks and perverting the course of justice.
Giovanni, aged 29, of Latebrook Close, Goldenhill, and Savatori, aged 22, of Pinnox Street, Tunstall, were handed suspended prison sentences after both admitting conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to apply false trademarks.
Following the lengthy investigation by trading standards officers, they then worked with colleagues at Staffordshire Police’s financial investigation unit, who began to look into how much money had been raised through the criminal activity.
Judge David Fletcher ruled the men had benefited to the tune of £1.076 million from their criminal conduct, and had combined available assets of £488,370. He ordered Guiseppe Oliverio to pay back £339,107, with £51,000 set aside to compensate the victims. Giovanni Oliverio was ordered to pay back £69,780 and Savatori Oliverio ordered to pay back £79,488. All three men were given 16 weeks to make the payments or face prison sentences.
A spokesman for Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “The original investigation was a very important, lengthy and complex case. We’re very pleased with the confiscation order handed out by the court, which was one of – if not the biggest – Proceeds of Crime hearing our trading standards team have been involved with. It sends a clear message out to others who break the law that crime does not pay, and legislation is there to ensure that criminals are deprived of the benefits of their illegal activity.
“The result is a really good example of the collaborative working between the council’s trading standards and legal team, and colleagues at Staffordshire Police who carried out the necessary financial investigations to make the applications for the confiscation orders.”
Detective Constable Mark Kelsall from Staffordshire Police’s financial investigation team, said: “This was a complex investigation that would not have been possible without working with our partners in trading standards. We’re pleased with the confiscation order and hope this sends a message to others involved in criminal enterprise that your liberty and any financial gains could be taken away from you if you are caught.”