Look out for stolen V5 documents

Just received the following press release from HPI and thought it useful enough to reproduce here:

HPI is warning motorists to be on their guard after the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) issued an alert confirming that stolen log books (V5) are still circulating and being used by criminals to clone stolen cars.  HPI is the UK’s leading independent vehicle information specialist and the only one that includes a stolen V5 document check as standard, confirming the V5 registration document is not one of the batch the DVLA confirmed as stolen. Uniquely, HPI also provide clone cover up to the value of £30,000(3) with their vehicle check.

HPI first notified the public the theft of 130,000 blank registration forms from the DVLA when it happened back in 2006, and so far more than 11,000 cloned vehicles worth over than £13million have been recovered, but ACPO warn that it is likely that thousands more vehicles will have been stolen,  cloned, and sold on illegally. HPI is in the unique position to help used car buyers to take simple but effective steps to stop these criminals in their tracks.

The documents are being used by criminals to accompany stolen vehicles that have had their identity changed to match that of a legitimate vehicle, otherwise known as cloning.  “Despite ongoing warnings of the threat of car cloning, buyers are more at risk from used car criminals than ever before,”  explains Nicola Johnson, Consumer Services Manager, HPI,  “Criminals are making millions by cloning cars using the blank registration forms stolen from the DVLA and selling these vehicles on to unsuspecting members of the public, who then lose both their new motor and their money when their vehicles are confiscated by the police.”

The stolen certificates have a different background colour on the Notification of Permanent Export (V5C/4) tear off slip on the second page, which looks mauve on the front and pink on the reverse.  On legitimate documents they should be mauve on both sides.

But says Nicola Johnson, there are other measures that car buyers can follow to help them avoid buying a clone.

One – Location: If you’re buying privately, make sure you view it at the registered keeper’s address (as shown on the V5/logbook).

Two – Provenance: Always check the history of the car. One vital check the buyer can do is to find all the VIN/chassis numbers on the vehicle to make sure they match each other, and then use the HPI Check to ensure they tally with the registration number of the vehicle.

Three – Documents: Check the vehicle’s V5/logbook. Stolen V5 documents are currently being used to accompany cloned vehicles but the HPI Check includes a unique stolen V5 document check as standard.  This will confirm whether or not the document is one that the DVLA have recorded as stolen. The vehicle should also be accompanied by a service history and MOT certificates if the vehicle is over 3 years old – make sure you see these too.

Four – Price: Know the car’s market value. No genuine seller will want to lose money on their sale. If you are paying more than 30% below the retail market value, then be on your guard.

Five – Payment: Don’t pay with a substantial amount of 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 hear 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. HPI plays an active role in working with ACPO’s Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service to help solve vehicle crime, and is the only vehicle provenance check provider to include clone cover within its guarantee(3). If the buyer follows HPI’s buying advice, this can provide up to £30,000 financial reimbursement in the event of the car not being everything it seems – including a clone.

Concludes Nicola Johnson:  “It is essential that HPI, the police and the general public work together to squeeze out fraudsters.  We can’t stop stolen V5s from circulating but we can stop the criminals from profiteering from them by simply using the tools that are at hand to check, check and double check if documents are legitimate.”

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