Beware Of Scrappage Scheme Scam

The governments new scrappage scheme could see dealers open to a new threat involving stolen V5s, warns vehicle information experts HPI. Whilst the scheme aims to revive the new car market and remove older, less eco-friendly cars from the road, it is likely to attract opportunistic criminals as well as the legitimate car buyers. HPI urges dealers to remain vigilant when it comes to checking vehicle documents.

"In a bid to make the most of the scrappage scheme to swap old vehicles for cut price new ones, fraudsters will need proof of a year's ownership. This is the only prerequisite for qualifying for the discount and as of yet there is little or no means of policing this," explains Daniel Burgess, Director of Automotive at HPI. "As such, we have a concern that used car criminals will use stolen V5s to prove they've been the registered keeper of a vehicle for at least 12 months."

The DVLA first announced that there were a large number of stolen V5s in circulation in 2007. Although AVCIS, the Association of Police Officers Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, has recovered in excess of 700 vehicles with a total value exceeding £6.5 million, they recently expressed concerned that there may be a significant number of these documents still in circulation.

More recently, stolen V5s have been used by criminals to accompany stolen vehicles that have had their identity changed to match that of a legitimate one, otherwise known as clones. These clones are then sold on to unsuspecting dealers, leaving them severely out of pocket when the vehicles are found to be stolen and confiscated by the police. However, the new scrappage incentive scheme makes stolen V5s an even greater asset for the fraudster.

Dealers need to look out for V5s with a slightly 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.

"The HPI Check is the only service that provides a Stolen V5 Document Check as standard, offering dealers an added level of protection," concludes Burgess. "Dealers that don't use it could find that manufacturers refuse to pay the money for a fraudulent vehicle, leaving you to pick up the bill. We advise dealers to remain vigilant to reap the benefits of the scrappage scheme, rather than getting taken for a ride. Never take a V5 at face value and get all vehicle documents checked."

13 May 2009 Staff

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