A FRAUDSTER conned thousands of pounds out of insurance companies by reporting cars he did not own as stolen.

Over the space of two-and-a-half years, Louis King duped the DVLA into believing that he owned a number of vehicles that were not his.

The 29-year-old, from Widnes, would insure these cars before reporting that they had been pinched days later – a swindle that netted him more than £13,000.

Liverpool Crown Court heard on Thursday, January 30, that the DVLA 'took him at face value' when he claimed he had purchased the motors and sent him the vehicle registration certificates.

King, of Fisher Place, then used these certificates as proof of ownership when reporting the alleged thefts to police and his insurers – 'deliberately exploiting a weakness in the system'.

Between January 2017 and July 2019, he attempted this fraud five times – with Churchill paying out £9,043 on a supposedly stolen Mercedes A18 Sport.

But money was not paid out by LV, Axa and Direct Line, who received claims for thefts of Mercedes CL200, Toyota Aygo, Renault Clio and Citreon Cactus cars worth more than £30,000 combined.

The latter company had prepared a cheque for him before being informed of the con by police.

King – who has six previous convictions for 16 offences including fraud – falsely reported a Vauxhall Astra he did own as stolen, with insurer Ageas paying out £4,425.

He also obtained a £20,000 loan for a Jaguar XJ by forging wage slips and bank statements which claimed he was being paid £3,000-a-month.

The rightful owner of one of the cars reported stolen was arrested by police as a result of the navy veteran's actions, while one insurer provided him with a courtesy car at a cost of £570.

King, who admitted seven counts of fraud, claimed to have been 'coerced' into the con by a man he owed money to.

Judge Thomas Teague handed him a 16-month jail sentence suspended for two years.

Sentencing, judge Teague said: "Effectively, these offences were committed under the direction of another man who you had borrowed money from.

"You committed this sophisticated fraud, you say, while being under intimidation from him.

"In one case, the legitimate owner of the vehicle was arrested as a result of the police believing the car they were driving was stolen when it was not.

"These were sophisticated offences which required significant planning and took place over a sustained period of time, but the court cannot ignore the element of coercion and intimidation.

"The court has to consider whether it is possible to suspend this sentence, and this is not a straightforward decision.

"I have reached the view that in the particular circumstances of this case it's just possible to suspend the sentence.

"This is the only chance you're going to get.

"I'll remember you and I'll remember what I said to you today and there will be no second chances."

King was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and told to serve a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 35 days.