A FRAUDSTER who ‘clocked cars’ and then sold them on ebay has been jailed for 21 months.

Stephen Appleton, of Meadowcroft, Sutton Leach was convicted of fraud at Liverpool Crown Court.

The prosecution followed a lengthy investigation by St Helens Council’s Trading Standards Service.

In early 2012, the officers received several complaints about cars sold by Appleton, using adverts on the auction website, which used the name Imperial Motors.

One customer complained that the BMW he had bought was an insurance write off, while another discovered that the mileage reading on a Toyota Avensis had been turned back by more than 100,000 miles.

An investigation revealed that Appleton acquired marquee former fleet cars with high mileage, including a police vehicle, which had been sold at auctions around the country.

Within a few days of the auction, the odometer would be turned back and the car was taken for MOT test, to produce a certificate to validate the lower recorded mileage.

Appleton then sold the cars, to unsuspecting customers all over the country.

Appleton was aware of the true mileage of the cars, as documents, such as the service histories, were found in his home address, when searched by Trading Standards and Merseyside Police, in November 2012.

They also found false service records, and garage stamps that had been used to produce these.

Appleton admitted to making false invoices and service records, saying that he thought it would help him get a better price for the cars.

The fraudster used several different ebay accounts and changed his phone number frequently, meaning unhappy customers were unable to contact him.

Customers were left out of pocket, with vehicles that were worthless and costing a fortune to get repaired.

Appleton, who describes himself as a self-employed car trader, had pleaded guilty to 25 offences under the Fraud Act 2006.

The charges covered 17 vehicles sold or offered for sale by him between September 2009 and May 2013.

The value of the deception was estimated at £28,000, this being the profit made on the cars.