Send in the clones

* Don't buy a 'phantom' car * The scam that haunts the internet * We help you beat the conmen...

Send in the clones

The practice of disguising one car to look like another is an easy way of conning buyers especially if a fake V5C registration document is used to back up the scam. These cars are called clones, and buyers are lured to them because of their bargain prices.

The car itself could be stolen, or an insurance write-off thats been poorly repaired and put back on the road. Buy a car like this and you could end up having it reclaimed by the police with no chance of getting your money back, or you could be seriously injured in an accident.

Fake and stolen V5C documents are in circulation, but it is possible to check their authenticity. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) offers advice on its website ( and has an automated phone checking service (0870 241 1878).

A vehicle history check will also reveal whether a car has been written off, stolen, or is still subject to outstanding finance. Its best to get a check done yourself, rather than relying on one the seller provides.

Safer car hunting with VSTAGThe Vehicle Safe Trading Advisory Group (VSTAG) is a partnership between the Metropolitan Police, magazines, websites and classified advertisers such as Auto Trader, eBay, Exchange and Mart and, and aims to help combat vehicle fraud. VSTAGs website ( contains information and case studies on the latest used car scams. It advises on how to safely buy a used car and who to contact if you have a problem.