Innocent expats forfeit passports in Spanish car import scam case.

Published:  19 Aug at 6 PM
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Almost 100 expats in Spain are still fighting to have their passports returned after they were unwittingly involved in a car import scam.

The unfortunate expats used British-owned Car Import Spain to transport their vehicles from their home countries, and are now being investigated for fraud and suspicion of involvement in the scam. Even although CEO Chris Dann has reportedly accepted blame for the scam, the expats involved have not yet received their confiscated passports and are still having to make fortnightly reports to the Spanish court.

One victim of the scam, Dutch expat Johan van Wershoven, has taken matters into his own hands by appealing to the Barcelona court to expadite the investigation. Van Wershoven doesn’t believe how long the investigation is talking, and simply wants to be able to get on with his life.

The computer programmer relocated from California to Spain with his wife Ria three years ago, and used the car transportation company to send their BMW5351 to Mijas. Prior to the move, he had obtained the necessary Baja Consular covering import tax for the car, and had also registered the car in Spain. Chris Dann then substituted forged documentation for the forms supplied by his client and presented it to the Spanish traffic department.

When Van Wershoven was ordered to attend Malaga court in 2014, he believed a mistake had been made, and was horrified to find he was implicated in the scam. Even after his explanation including confirmation that the documents supplied by Dann were not those he’d provided, his request to return his passport was still refused by the court.

Although he was still able to travel within the EU using his Dutch ID card, he's one of only a few as even British clients caught up in the scam are still stuck in Spain, unable to travel. Finally, the necessity of reporting to the court twice a month became too much for the Van Werchovens, and led to their recent move to Portugal.

In an interview, Van Wershoven told local media he still loves Spain and the Spanish people, adding there’s a bitter taste in his mouth as a result of the entire fiasco. Every time he crosses the border, he’s reminded of his bureaucratic nightmare. Car Import Spain is no longer trading, and both phone numbers and emails are unresponsive. When asked, a court official confirmed the case was still open, but gave no further details.
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