An H&H reader is urging lorry owners not to hand over vital documentation after she was caught out by a scammer.
Claire Nightingale advertised her Leyland Daf 45 lorry in H&H in June 2013. A broker approached her, wanting to act as an agent to rent her horsebox for a year. She signed a contract, which said that her horsebox would be let out for 12 months and the person letting it, or the broker, would then pay a sum at the end of the year to keep the lorry.
“I checked the company on the credit line and I phoned the fraud squad and he wasn’t known to them,” Ms Nightingale told H&H. “He had equestrian knowledge and also recommended another client as a reference, so it all seemed legitimate.”
Ms Nightingale signed a contract with the man — who used the name George Taylor — and also gave him her V5C document, which provides proof of registration. Mr Taylor claimed he needed the document to “reregister” the vehicle for insurance purposes.
Ms Nightingale received several instalments of her monthly money before the man —who she describes as slim built and in his early 60s with a cockney accent — stopped returning her emails and phone calls.
“After the contract ran out I found three different addresses online for him. I have driven halfway around the country trying to find him,” she added.
Ms Nightingale has reported the matter to the Avon and Somerset police, which told H&H, “enquiries are continuing, although initial investigation suggests that this may be a civil matter and that no crime has been committed.”
The police are debating if it is a criminal offence because Ms Nightingale willingly handed over the lorry and its registration documentation.
A spokesman from the force added: “If you are considering leasing your own equipment you should always seek specialist legal advice.”
Jacqui Fulton, from Equine Law, reiterated that you should never hand over a V5C certificate until payment has been received in full.
“Ms Nightingale should have also asked the alleged broker for his ID — passport and a recent utility bill,” she added.
“This is a civil matter, but it is also possibly a criminal matter as it seems that the lorry has been stolen if the man has disappeared with it and stopped making the agreed payments.”
Ref: Horse & Hound; 12 February 2015