TWO fraudsters who exploited struggling families with a dodgy car hire company have been spared jail.
Deceitful husband and wife duo Casey Chappell, 25, and Natalie Chappell 27, ran Guaranteed Car Ltd – an unlicensed rental company in Portsmouth.
The pair deliberately targeted people with poor credit backgrounds or low incomes and duped them into believing they were buying a car on finance.
Their victims were only renting the cars and when they could no longer afford them the Chappells began a series of ‘highly aggressive’ and ‘hostile communications’ before seizing the vehicles and profiting the cash.
Yet despite their actions, the dishonest duo were able to walk free of the docks – a move with infuriated victim Claire Bagshaw, of Worcester.
She said: ‘They’re scum and I’m disappointed they haven’t been jailed.’
The couple’s actions took place from September 2014 to February 2015.
Prosecutor Oliver Wellings told the court how the ‘core purpose’ of the company was to offer financial services.
But he said neither of them had authorisation to provide such a service.
‘The purpose of the company was to defraud consumers,’ he added.
Kelly Lamont, of Keyhaven Drive, Leigh Park, was one of those targeted.
The mum-of-two approached them after seeing a Renault Megane advertised for sale and agreed to a hire-purchase deal, paying weekly instalments of £32.
But when the terms and conditions came through, there was no mention of the hire-purchase. When she chased them for answers, Casey Chappell told her the car was being seized.
Mr Wellings said: ‘There were a series of highly aggressive and hostile communications from Mr Chappell via Facebook.’
It was a similar situation for Mrs Bagshaw, whose car was also wrongly repossessed by the pair.
Casey Chappell, of Langley Road, Portsmouth, admitted a count of fraud by false representation, engaging in aggressive commercial practice and running a business with intent to defraud.
He was sentenced to 42 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, 100 hours of unpaid community work and ordered to pay £1,428.46 in compensation.
Natalie Chappell, of Lovedean Lane, Waterlooville, admitted one count of fraud by false representation and running a business with intent to defraud.
She was handed a 36-week prison sentence, suspended for 15 months, 80 hours of unpaid work, and was also ordered to pay £1,428.46 in compensation.
Councillor Rob New, of Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for regulatory services was delighted with the result.
He said: ‘This is a warning to individuals or businesses running fraudulent operations that we will take action against them.’