Used car owners are being warned about devious motorists who are turning to car cloning, in an attempt to outwit police automated number plate recognition (ANPR) systems.

Cars are cloned in order to disguise the identity of a stolen car which is unlawfully sold on for a cut-price.

Now vehicle history check expert, HPI, have warned the public to be wary of these petty criminals who are now cloning cars to avoid parking fines and speeding tickets, whilst organised gangs are using them to commit more serious crimes.

Almost identical to personal identity theft, car cloning occurs when criminals mask the true identity of a vehicle by giving it a false Vehicle Registration Number (VRM) often that of a similar make and model car legitimately on the road.

The result of innocently purchasing a stolen vehicle that has been given a false identity is the used car buyer ultimately losing their car and their hard earned money when it is returned to the legal owner by the police.

The ability to purchase 'show'plates on the internet or over the phone with no documentation allows criminals to bypass the ruling that to buy a registration plate in the UK owners must have the vehicle's logbook - otherwise known as a V5 - driver's license and proof of address.

How to avoid car cloning

Used car buyers can avoid being victims of car cloning by taking the following steps:

  • Always check the provenance/history of the car you are looking to purchase, as well as viewing this at the address listed on the V5/logbook
  • Check the vehicle's V5/logbook. Stolen V5 documents are still being used to accompany cloned vehicles. Checks on stolen V5 documents are available
  • Ensure all the VIN/chassis numbers on the vehicle tally up with each other. Follow this up by conducting a vehicle history check to ensure they match DVLA records
  • Find out what the car's market value is, because if you find that you would be paying less than 70% of the market price for a vehicle it is likely that it would be a suspicious deal
  • Avoid paying in cash if possible. This is especially recommended if the car costs over £3,000. HPI claim that many buyers who pay in cash eventually find out that the car is a clone

For more advice on what to check when looking to buy a used car read our tips here.


Share this post