Police warn of car cloning fraud

Three victims lose a total of �45,000

POLICE are warning prospective car buyers to be extra vigilant after three people in Devon lost around �45,000 between them as the victims of cloned vehicle fraud.

Throughout March, police were made aware of three separate incidents where people had unwittingly bought stolen cars.

The buyers had paid their money in good faith, only to later discover that the vehicles were stolen (from areas outside Devon and Cornwall and had false plates and identification numbers placed on them.

Police recovered two cloned Land Rovers in Umberleigh and Cullompton in the early part of the month and a third one in Dittisham towards the end of the month.

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Vehicle Investigations Officer, PC Mark Humphries, explained the cloning process: “These cars are initially stolen along with their keys from people’s homes or premises,” he said.

“They are then advertised for sale with forged V5(c) log books, and MOT certificates which relate to non-stolen vehicles in other areas of the country.

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“They bear false number plates, VIN (vehicle identification) numbers, tax discs, VIN stickers and forged service books and will come with only one key.

“Even an HPI check will come back as clear as the cloned details relate to another vehicle.”

Usually the new ‘owner’ will only discover they have become a victim once they send the fake documents back to DVLA. These three crimes happen to relate to Land Rovers, but the same could apply to any car, in any area of Devon and Cornwall.

Mark offered the following tips to anyone who has concerns about buying a used car on the private market:

• KNOW the car’s market value. The trade will know that anyone paying less than 70% of the market price for a vehicle should be on their guard. No seller will want to lose money on a sale.

• ALWAYS Check the seller’s knowledge of the vehicle and its history

• NEVER pay with large amounts of cash. A banker’s draft will give traceability.

• ALWAYS be wary of anything under book price.

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