Motorists warned of fake NCT certs on used cars which are difficult distinguish from genuine versions
Motorists are being warned to be on the lookout for fake NCT certs on cars they are thinking of buying.
The cars are potentially dangerous but are being traded as safe because the false certs suggest they have passed the national test.
According to car-history check experts MyVehicle.ie, the certs can be elaborate and difficult to distinguish from genuine versions.
And MyVehicle managing director Justin Kavanagh says: "It's extremely worrying just how easy it now is to obtain a fake NCT certificate."
An invalid NCT cert can invoke five penalty points, a €2,000 fine and possibly three months' jail.
Mr Kavanagh, in urging people to have a car's history checked, says buyers are being conned into believing the certs are genuine because when they see them they trust the mileage etc printed on them.
His company claims forged certs can be bought for as little as €50 for any vehicle "even if it is not roadworthy".
Being able to use fake certs obviously makes it easier to sell cars at a higher price but it puts buyers at potential risk.
In a statement to Motors, MyVehicle says: "Right now, there is a black market demand for these certs.
"Fake NCTs are surfacing throughout the country."
It is believed many 'suppliers' - who are believed to be selling several certs a week - apparently feel they are immune from detection because the documents can't be traced back to them.
Allegedly, they are telling those who use them to remove the certificate should they be involved in a crash.
According to MyVehicle the forgers can "put whatever they like" on the certs: expiry dates, mileage, NCT cert number etc.
They all look authentic so most people can't tell the difference between official and fake. MyVehicle says: "The potential buyer sees the NCT certificate on the windscreen and just takes it at face value that the car is mechanically sound, when in fact this may not be the case at all."
Buyers should keenly scrutinise certs.
Check the registration number on the cert against the make and model of car. In some fake examples the registration won't match the make and model.
Check this by going to the NCT's link and entering the reg number.
In some examples, the authentic 12-digit serial number is also in a larger font than the 11-digit fake number.
Ultimately, the advice is: don't buy without having all aspects of the car checked out thoroughly.