Two men sentenced for car-buying scam where sellers never received payment for vehicles

Two men sentenced for car-buying scam where sellers never received payment for vehicles

TWO men have been sentenced for an online car-buying scam which saw them take vehicles from unsuspecting victims without paying for them.

Thomas Roberts, aged 30, and 25-year-old Shane McDonagh, both from the Staines area of Wraysbury in England, were convicted of seven counts of fraud and possession of criminal assets at Belfast Crown Court.

Roberts was also separately convicted of driving with no insurance and McDonagh of possession of a Class C controlled drug.

The court heard that between February and October 2022 the pair set up an online scam where they purchased seven vehicles from sellers located across the Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Armagh and Newry areas.

They would visit the sellers and take the cars for a test drive before agreeing a price which they would pay via an online banking app.

However the app was a fake and the sellers never received the money dispute handing over the vehicles.

The pair have been sentenced at Belfast Crown Court

“An extensive and detailed investigation commenced after the suspects fraudulently purchased seven vehicles through classified advertising on a website,” the PSNI’s Detective Sergeant Cargin said today.

“The seller was then contacted by the defendants and arrangements were made to meet in Northern Ireland.

“They then took the vehicle for a test drive and a price was agreed,” he explained.

“The defendant showed a fake banking app which appeared to display the agreed amount being transferred.

“However, the money never arrived for the sale and contact was lost.”

He added: “Of the seven vehicles stolen in this manner three were later recovered, only one of which was in a usable condition.”

The pair were arrested by police as they disembarked the Birkenhead to Belfast Ferry on  May 15 and later charged.

Yesterday (July 3), they were handed a 40-month sentence for all offences and were ordered to spend 20 months in prison, and the remainder of the sentence on licence.

“These were very serious fraudulent offences and we, along with partner organisations, remain committed to disrupting the activities of those involved with illegal activity, including financial fraud,” Det Serg Cargin said.

“I would encourage anyone with information that could assist in our ongoing efforts to contact us on the non-emergency number 101, or submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via,” he added.