A car-clocking gang - which included men from Frodsham and Chester - has been sent down after hiding more than seven million miles from their vehicles.
Simon Richard Williams, 49, from Fluin Lane in Frodsham; John Murphy, 67, and Paul Arslanian, 38, both of Conwy; Christopher Graham Lunt, 39, Long Lane, Chester; and Trevor Gareth Jones, 58, Colwyn Bay, were sentenced for fraud at Liverpool Crown Court.
Murphy received three years in prison; Arslanian, two years and three months; Lunt, 20 months; Williams 18 months; and Jones, 15 months.
The sentencing followed a three-year investigation by Halton and Warrington’s Trading Standards teams – the biggest they had ever carried out.
A Warrington Borough Council spokesman said the defendants, who worked for Runcorn-based chauffeur company PCS Events Ltd, operated a widespread system of clocking cars in their possession.
Investigators began their probe in 2013 after receiving allegations of fraud and consumer protection crime relating to winding back the mileages on vehicles obtained by the company.
The defendants sought to profit through selling vehicles which had previously been on lease hire for chauffeuring purposes, with the subsequent sale prices inflated because of the incorrect mileage readings.
Halton and Warrington scambusters began work on the case while operating as a joint service.
Now two separate teams, the councils continued to work together to deal with the case.
A Warrington Trading Standards spokesman said: “A huge amount of evidence was gathered – including the cross referencing of fuel records for vehicles, examining finance and warranty work records and recording the accounts of people who had purchased ‘clocked’ vehicles supplied by PCS Events Ltd.
“It was found that over 100 vehicles had been clocked, with evidence of clocked vehicles dating from 2008 to 2014.
“The minimum amount of clocking which is believed to have taken place is 7.5m miles.
“As well as gathering evidence against Murphy, Arslanian, Lunt, and Jones for altering the mileage of cars in the possession of PCS Events Ltd, Trading Standards officers also obtained evidence of links to Williams, who carried out MOT testing of clocked vehicles, producing documents which showed incorrect mileage.”
Dave Watson, Warrington Borough Council regulatory services manager, said: “This successful prosecution is down to a meticulous investigation carried out over a number of years by trading standards.
“No stone was left unturned in building this case, and it shows how trading standards are making a real difference in the fight against fraud.”
Deana Perchard, Halton Borough Council’s Trading Standards manager, said: “Rogue traders who cause serious detriment to consumers and who use illegal means to gain competitive advantages over legitimate businesses will always be a priority for enforcement action.
“The sentences issued by the court reflect the seriousness of the offences and the thoroughness of what was an incredibly complex investigation.”