Car importer told to 'pay up'

A Norfolk car importer who defrauded customers of nearly £200,000 has been ordered to pay up more than £24,000 - or face a jail term. David Grace, 48, who ran Dacar Imports UK, has admitted eight deception and fraud charges and appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday for a confiscation hearing.

A Norfolk car importer who defrauded customers of nearly £200,000 has been ordered to pay up more than £24,000 - or face a jail term.

David Grace, 48, who ran Dacar Imports UK, has admitted eight deception and fraud charges and appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday for a confiscation hearing.

Grace, of Whipps Lane, Fundenhall, near Wymondham, took orders from customers to ship vehicles from abroad and then failed to supply them.

Anthony Bate, prosecuting, said the total benefit Grace pocketed from the scam was £198,941 - of which £24,723 could be recovered and split between the customers who had lost money.

Judge Simon Barham made the order for Grace to pay up £24,723 in three months' time or serve an 18 month jail term in default.

The confiscation hearing was ahead of the sentencing of Grace which is expected to take place next week.

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At an earlier hearing Grace was warned he faced jail after he admitted a string of deception and fraud charges.

He admitted a charge of fraudulent trading by carrying on the business Dacar Imports UK between January 2002 and December 2003 and two charges of evading liability by deception and three charges of using a false instrument with intent.

He also admitted obtaining an £11,277 money transfer by deception on January 17, 2003 when he falsely claimed he had ordered a VW Golf for Tara Laidler and would arrange for the car to be delivered to her parents' address in Ipswich on January 23, 2003.

On May 13, 2003, he dishonestly obtained a £10,839 money transfer by deception by falsely claiming he intended to supply a Peugeot car to Paul Cartwright.

Grace was investigated by Norfolk Trading Standards officers after they received complaints from across the country about people placing orders for cars which then failed to materialise.