Car thieves are targeting prestige cars then changing their identities to sell them to unsuspecting buyers.
The Mercedes C-Class is the most popular model with criminals, according to vehicle history check provider, HPI. One in 10 cloned vehicles it uncovers is a Mercedes C-Class. Other upmarket models in its top-10 include the Audi A4, the Audi TT and the BMW 3 Series.
To disguise the fact that the cars have been stolen thieves 'clone' them – the car crime equivalent of identity theft. The number plates and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) are replaced with those from a similar vehicle of the same make and model.
Used car buyers are being urged to watch out for cloned vehicles. Advice includes:
• Be vary wary of a car which is offered for much less than it's true market value.
• Check that the VIN tallies with V5 registration document
• Even if it does, be cautious if there are signs that the VIN plate has been tampered with.
A history check may not reveal if a vehicle has been cloned. However, HPI's guarantee offers up to £30,000 back if a car which has been checked turns out to have been cloned.
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