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Alarm bells should be ringing for car dealers across the UK, as police arrest a gang of organised criminals* running a “highly sophisticated” car cloning ring, warns technology solutions provider to the automotive industry, HPI. The six fraudsters were arrested in Leeds, Bradford and Bournemouth in connection with the theft and cloning of a staggering 180 vehicles in a scam worth £2million.
Car cloning is the equivalent of identity fraud – criminals steal a car and give it a new identity copied from a similar make and model vehicle already on the road. The criminal disguises the unique 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the stolen car and uses a stolen V5/logbook to try to legitimise its identity.
Neil Hodson, deputy managing director for cap hpi, comments, “Police recovered an Aston Martin Vantage worth £38,000 and an Audi Q7 worth £16,000, showing the range of prices and just how much consumers have to lose on buying a clone. But it’s not just premium cars that are at risk from cloning. Dealers and private buyers alike need to be aware of the very real threat of cloning and the lengths criminal gangs will go to, to cover their tracks.
“Dealers who buy a clone stand to lose the car and their money, if it’s revealed to be stolen and returned to the rightful owner by the police. What’s more, dealers stand to seriously damage their reputation if they get caught selling on a cloned vehicle, even if the act was completely innocent. Crucially, the HPI Check is the only vehicle history check to include clone cover within its dealer warranty, making it the best protection for traders looking to save themselves from an expensive mistake.”
Detective Superindendent Pat Twiggs of West Yorkshire Police said: “The operation is focused on vehicles being stolen, primarily in the south of England, without keys using, specialist equipment and then transported to Leeds where they are professionally cloned using the identities of legitimate vehicles and sold to innocent buyers through used car publications and websites.”*
The HPI Check includes a mileage check against the National Mileage Register (NMR) as standard, now with over 200 million mileage readings. HPI also confirms whether a vehicle is currently recorded as stolen with the police, has outstanding finance against it or has been written off, making it the best way for dealers to protect themselves from fraudsters looking to make a fast profit. In addition, the HPI Warranty offers a £30,000** compensation in the event of the information it provides being inaccurate – including a clone – offering added financial peace of mind for traders.”
HPI’s 4 steps to avoid buying a clone
One… Always check the provenance/history of the car. Buyers should ensure all the VIN/chassis numbers on the vehicle match each other and then use the HPI Check to ensure they tally with the details as recorded with the DVLA.
Two… Know the car’s market value. If you are paying less than 70% of the market price for a vehicle, then be on your guard. No seller will want to lose money on their sale. There is rarely such a thing as a bargain, especially if the car later turns out to be a clone.
Three… Don’t pay with cash, particularly if the car is costing you more than £3,000. Some cloners will take a bankers draft as part payment, because the cash part is sufficient profit without ever cashing the bankers draft. Most crooks selling cloned cars would rather walk away from a sale than take a payment that could be traced back to them. Despite strong advice to buyers to pay via the banking system, HPI still hears of many buyers who go on to pay in cash and subsequently find out that the car is a clone, and that they’ve lost both their money and the vehicle.
Four… Check the vehicle’s V5/logbook. Stolen V5 documents are still being used to accompany cloned vehicles. As an added security measure, the HPI Check continues to include a unique stolen V5 document check as standard. This will confirm whether or not the document is one that the DVLA has recorded as stolen.
CAP HPI USED CAR MARKET MARCH MID-MONTH UPDATE
Used car values remain strong.
Retail and trade demand healthy.
Volumes starting to increase.
Easter period a watershed again?
The month of March has, to date, proved to be a strong one for the used car market, as cap hpi predicted.
Consumers are still actively buying and as a result used car outlets have continued to frequent the auction halls. Conversion rates and sales prices have both held up well.
The early part of March saw some volume models in demand and as a result prices were pushed up. This can be seen with certain examples of the Mondeo, Passat, Golf and Yaris, amongst others.
Convertibles have started their usual seasonal climb in value – with winter now over consumers are looking to the summer months when a soft or hard top is a popular choice. Switched-on dealers will already have purchased when prices were at a low in December or January.
Whilst prices overall have held up well, it is noticeable that this strength is more prevalent on cars around the 3-year old mark. Certainly those at 1-year old or younger have not shown the same strength, due in large part to the presence of attractive new car offerings and the volume of pre-registered cars.
It will be interesting to see how long the used car market retains this strength. Year-to-date the market has been slightly healthier than it was in 2015 and that despite volumes being higher than a year ago. Easter tends to be a watershed, with the holiday period reducing demand, just as supply increases due to part-exchanges and fleet returns generated by the March plate change.
Whilst it is likely that prices will start to fall after Easter, the question this year is: will the falls be heavier than in previous years, because they are starting from a higher point so have further to drop, or will the retail market maintain its strength and temper some of the negative movements? Black book live will track this on a daily basis throughout the period in question but it is likely that value movements will, at the very least, be in-line with the same period last year.