Warning over the latest atttack of car clones
USED imports are running at lower levels than last year but there is a grim warning this week for those still buying across the water.
British police car crime experts say thousands of ‘cloned’ cars are still being sold to genuine buyers, who then stand to lose both their new car and the money they paid for it.
According to new UK figures, 1,300 cloned vehicles, worth more than £13m, have been recovered since 2006. But that, the experts say, is a mere tip of the iceberg, with more than 100,000 stolen blank V5C Registration documents still in circulation being used to clone stolen vehicles.
Cars are cloned when criminals use stolen vehicle documents to change the identity of a stolen car to match that of a legitimate one. Such vehicles are then often sold on illegally, to unwitting buyers.
Experts say buyers – regardless of where they come from – are at greater risk from cloned cars than ever before. Edmund King, AA president, says: “Car buying is fraught with pitfalls, from rogue traders to car cloning and forged documents. It always pays to shop with your head, not your heart and deal only with those who can deliver you genuine cars, from accredited dealers.” To minimise the risk, if buying abroad:
1Do not pay in cash – cloners want to be able to disappear quickly with the money and remain anonymous. Instead, use a traceable payment method, such as a credit card or bank draft.
2Check key vehicle details before you buy – cloners don’t want buyers to look at the details and spot anomalies in the paperwork or on the vehicle. Check registration number (VRM), chassis number (VIN), along with the V5C serial number and issue date to check if it has been altered in anyway, or it’s one of the ones recorded as stolen. Serial numbers for the stolen V5Cs are: BG8229501- BG9999030 and BI2305501- BI2800000.
3Do not pay less than 70pc of the vehicle’s market value – cloners want to shift the car quickly, so will price it as a bargain (half price or even less). Know the market value for the car you’re buying and don’t be blinded by the ‘bargain’.
4View and buy from only an authorised retailer with premises, or purchase from the registered keeper’s address. Cloners want to remain untraceable and anonymous. To ensure a clean getaway, cloners meet the buyer in a lay-by, motorway service station or car park. Don’t be tempted by any such offer and check the address matches details on the V5C.
5Buy only from reputable dealers.
6Better still, buy from a reputable dealer at home. The price gap is now such that the home market is far more competitive.