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

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.

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.

"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."

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A social distancing sign at the Wimborne Model Town and Gardens in Wimborne, Dorset, as they prepare to reopen to members of the public on Saturday following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.
Season ticket holders walk the streets during a preview day at the Wimborne Model Town and Gardens in Wimborne, Dorset, as they prepare to reopen to members of the public on Saturday following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer discusses employment and post Covid-19 support for businesses with staff at engineering components manufacturer, Beard and Fitch in Harlow today where he was joined by shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson MP. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 9, 2020. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Groundsmen wear face masks ahead of day two of the Test Series at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.
England's Stuart Broad, right, and Sam Curran wear face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus before the start of the first day of the 1st cricket Test match between England and West Indies, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Wednesday July 8, 2020. (Adrian Dennis/Pool via AP)
Britain's Sophie, Countess of Wessex speaks to guests during a visit to The Half Moon pub in Windlesham, England, Wednesday, July 8, 2020. The Countess of Wessex visited the Surrey pub to speak to the pubs landlord and staff about how the business has been affected by COVID-19 and lockdown. (Stuart C. Wilson/PA via AP)
File photo dated 4/7/2020 of visitors wearing PPE sit apart as they view Eva Gonzales, 1870, by Edouard Manet, at the National Portrait Gallery, London, as it prepares to reopen following the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England. The Government has announced a �1.57 billion support package to "protect the future of Britain's museums, galleries and theatres.
A clown circus performer poses in a phone box preparing, with other members of the Association of Circus Proprietors, to deliver a petition calling for permission to open their work, to 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday July 7, 2020. Circus performers are calling for the right to reopen ahead of the busy summer season. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)
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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."

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