£45K Lost to Cloned Vehicle Fraud

Police are warning prospective car buyers to be extra vigilant after three people in Devon lost around £45,000 as the victims of cloned vehicle fraud. Throughout March, police were made aware of three separate incidents where people had unwittingly bought stolen cars.

The buyers had paid their money in good faith, only to later discover that the vehicles were stolen (from areas outside of Devon and Cornwall) and had false plates and identification numbers placed on them.

PC Mark Humphries




Car cloning is the vehicle equivalent of identity fraud – criminals will steal a car and give it a new false identity copied from a similar vehicle already registered on the road.

This is usually done by giving the vehicle a false set of number plates, an illegal copy of the V5C document (or 'log book') and a different VIN number.

The lengths cloning fraudsters will go to

Criminals may attempt to sell a clone privately. If you buy a stolen/cloned you vehicle won’t legally own it and you will probably lose your money.

If the deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is, so take time to consider all the facts.

Do Your Research:

Once you have decided what type of car you want to buy, search online using sites or in other local and specialist magazines. Know the car’s market value. The trade will know that anyone paying less than 70% of the market price for a vehicle should be on their guard. No seller will want to lose money on a sale.

Contact the Seller:

Write down a list of questions you want to ask…

How long has the seller had the vehicle

Does it have a recent MOT

Is it taxed

Has it been in an accident

What supporting documents are available, service history, invoices, V5c, MOT, etc

Cloned vehicle sold to unsuspecting buyer


Some simple quick checks you can make before buying.

A vehicle check won’t be able to identify a cloned car, but it will identify if a car has been stolen, written off, scrapped or has outstanding finance.

Three commercial data-checking agencies are:



Carwatch UK Ltd (Car History Check) 0870 010 7899; Experian (Car Data Check) 0870 6000 838; and HPI Ltd 01722 422 422.