Dirtbag English Car Dealer Gets Jail Time for Ripping People Off

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

While there are absolutely exceptions, the days of the super-sleazy used car dealer seem to be behind us here in the States. Anyone ripped off by one of them probably wishes we had laws like those in England, where a shady dealer recently got jail time for his actions.

Samuel Smith’s Motor Value dealership in Nottinghamshire provided him and his family with a lavish lifestyle, but that income came at the expense of many unlucky buyers. He was found guilty after being accused of selling written-off cars with just enough repair to get them out the door, making bogus claims of warranties, and intimidating customers who complained.

Prosecutors detailed several cases where buyers paid deposits or purchased cars that were not as advertised. They found Smith’s bank account packed with 1.1 million pounds, so the racket was obviously quite profitable. He received 32 months in jail for his deeds, with the judge saying he showed “staggering arrogance” and “not a flicker of remorse.”

Despite that, Smith’s attorney said her client had changed. “The man that was deceiving these people is not the man who is now standing in the dock,” she said, noting that he’d learned some “very, very hard lessons” and had attempted suicide at one point.

The closest thing we have to something like this would probably be the “buy here, pay here” dealers with exorbitant interest rates and predatory repossession practices. That said, it’s still nice to see a dirtbag dealer get what’s right, even if it’s in another country.

[Image: KevinKlimaPhoto via Shutterstock]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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9 of 13 comments
  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on May 06, 2024

    What happened to the $1.1 million pounds?

    I saw an interview once I believe with Salvatore "the Bull" Gravano (but it may have been someone else) where he was asked what happened to all the money while he was imprisoned. Whomever it was blurted out something to the effect of "oh you keep the money, the Feds are just trying to put you away". Not up on criminal justice but AFAIK the FBI will seize money as part of an arrest/investigation but it seems they don't take you to the cleaners when they know you're a mobster (or maybe as part of becoming a rat they turn a blind eye?). I could really see this, because whatever agency comes after it has to build a case and then presumably fight defense counsel and it might not be worth it. I wonder if that's the case here?

  • GIJOOOE GIJOOOE on May 06, 2024

    Anyone who thinks that sleazbag used car dealers no longer exist in America has obviously never been in the military. Doesn’t matter what branch nor assigned duty station, just drive within a few miles of a military base and you’ll see more sleazbags selling used cars than you can imagine. So glad I never fell for their scams, but there are literally tens of thousands of soldiers/sailors/Marines/airmen who have been sold a pos car on a 25% interest rate.

    • See 3 previous
    • A Scientist A Scientist on May 08, 2024

      Oh I remember this so well when I was in the Navy (20+ years ago). The worst ones always gave themselves away with huge signs screaming E1 AND UP!!!! It was so bad when I was in Pensacola that the base CO actually instituted a mandatory car buying/financing course for any newbie who wanted to buy a car. Even still, I had a buddy later on that got suckered into buying a POS Pontiac Sunfire (why????) at 19% interest. Ugh...

  • Bd2 Bd2 on May 07, 2024

    Such practices are deeply frowned upon by Kia and Hyundai dealerships where consumers sport increasing credit scores and household incomes to boot.

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on May 07, 2024

      Hello Analog. What are your goals for the day?

  • VoGhost VoGhost on May 08, 2024

    Just reminding us all that we have to tolerate dealers (many of whom are billionaires) in the US if we want new legacy ICE vehicles because the dealers pay for the campaigns of local politicians, with our money.