Motor Industry News
Strathclyde Police has teamed up with the DVLA to warn motorists against buying stolen vehicles with false identities. More than 15 motorists have fallen victim to the scam in Strathclyde in recent months with hundreds more across the UK. It is believed that organised crime groups are targeting unsuspecting motorists by giving stolen vehicles false identities and then selling them privately to innocent motorists in the Strathclyde area.
The practice - known as vehicle 'cloning' - involves the changing of the identity of a stolen car to match that of a legitimate vehicle, meaning that even with a data check the vehicle appears legitimate. The car crooks are extremely sophisticated in their methods. They are able to falsify V5 (log book) documents, making them look completely authentic to the untrained eye. Many victims only realise they have been duped when they send the car's V5 document to the DVLA to register themselves as the new keeper.
For the innocent victims this means they lose their money - some victims have lost thousands of pounds - and their vehicle is confiscated.
- A 41 year-old man from Hamilton lost £8,000 after paying the crooks cash for a Transit pick-up
- A 55 year-old man from Kilmarnock lost £6,000, again for a Transit pick up
- A 43 year-old man from Argyll was conned out of £9,000 for a Toyota pick up
- A 37 year-old man from Ayrshire was duped out of £6,000, also for a Transit van.
Detectives from the Force's stolen vehicle squad and representatives from DVLA are warning motorists to be extra vigilant when buying a second-hand vehicle.
Detective Inspector Tom McCrosson said: "Victims have been paying large sums of money for what they believe are legitimate vehicles - they are devastated to later discover that their new van or car is stolen."
"I would urge members of the public to be vigilant when buying a second-hand vehicle. Always ensure you check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). The VIN appears on the VIN plate/sticker and is stamped on the chassis. It is the stamped version that is considered the best security check."
"Whilst the majority are perfectly legal, the fact that we believe organised crime groups are operating in this way, means you can never be too careful."
"If you are in any way suspicious when buying a second-hand vehicle our advice is to steer clear!"
Motorists are now being urged to take some simple steps to avoid becoming a victim.
- Ask to see the registration document before purchase. Check the serial number in the top left-hand corner of the document. If this bears the prefix AP followed by a number higher than 7360201 then it is likely to be a forged document. In addition, if it bears the prefix AN 885, followed by a number between 4201 - 9600, it is possible it is also a forged document.
- Run a check on the vehicle (and its accompanying V5) with a car checking company such as mycarcheck.com. Wait until you receive and read through your buyer's pack thoroughly before closing the deal.
- Be extra wary of vehicles which are being sold for significantly less than their market value.
- Always ensure you visit the seller at home (do not purchase the vehicle in a car park or other public space). If possible, ask to go inside the house to check the vehicle seller actually does live there.
- If the car sale advert only offers a mobile phone number, request a land line telephone number to contact the seller on. Even if a land line is provided still be cautious - in one incident in Strathclyde the telephone number given was a phone box in Kilmarnock.
- Be particularly wary when buying a van or pick up - these are extremely popular with the criminals.
DVLA spokesperson Bill Skedgell commented: "This is a very real problem for the honest motorists, particularly people living in the Strathclyde Police area where we've detected a particularly high incidence of criminals using forged V5s."
"We would urge motorists to be extra vigilant when buying used cars, and to ensure that all precautionary measures are taken to ensure that the car being purchased is not stolen."