A dodgy car dealer in Adelaide’s southern suburbs has been convicted and fined
$30,000 following a recent investigation by South Australia’s consumer watchdog Consumer and Business Services (CBS).
Gary Ronald Hancock pleaded guilty to five breaches of the Second-Hand Vehicle Dealers Act 1995 - one count of operating a second-hand car dealer business while unlicensed and four counts of making materially false or misleading statements.
The maximum penalties for these breaches are $100,000 and $25,000 respectively. Hancock was the subject of investigations by CBS following an anonymous complaint by a person who questioned the dealer’s licence after visiting the Edwardstown caryard in March 2013.
CBS investigators attended the caryard, conducted a search of the premises and obtained contracts and financial records detailing numerous second-hand car sales. Investigators warned Hancock that he was breaching the Second Hand Vehicle Dealers Act by operating a caryard without a licence.
Four days later, when CBS investigators returned to the caryard, they found Mr Hancock continuing to operate the business without a licence. CBS directed that business operations cease, and the caryard has been closed since that date.
Investigations also revealed that while operating as a dealer at Edwardstown, Mr Hancock had displayed notices with a false licence number and company details that were not connected to him or his business.
Last week the Chief Magistrate recorded convictions for each offence and ordered a total fine of $30,000, plus court costs. During the sentencing, the Chief Magistrate said the offending was a breach of regulatory legislation which is in place to protect car buyers in the community.
Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Dini Soulio said Mr Hancock engaged in conduct that mislead consumers into believing that they were dealing with a licensed individual or business.
“Let this serve as an important reminder that second-hand car dealers must hold the appropriate licences and comply with all requirements under the Act,” Mr Soulio said.
“A vehicle is a significant and expensive purchase for most households and these requirements are in place to ensure that South Australians in the market for a second- hand car are protected.
“CBS regulates this industry thoroughly and anyone caught trying wrought the system will be dealt with appropriately.”
If consumers have any concerns about their interactions with unlicensed second-hand car dealers they are encouraged to contact CBS on 131 882.
Consumers can check whether a dealer is licenced by searching the CBS Licensing Public Register at http://pubreg.ocba.sa.gov.au/ or can visit the Personal Property Securities Register to view the history of a vehicle at www.ppsr.gov.au.