LEADING vehicle information expert HPI is warning used-car buyers of the dangers of car cloning.
Fraudsters use car cloning to hide the identity of a stolen vehicle, to sell it on to an unsuspecting buyer. As one HPI customer recently found out, the HPI check offers protection against falling victim to a cloned vehicle.
Used-car buyer William Deane almost got more than he bargained for when looking for a used car on behalf of his sister. William spotted a VW Golf on Auto Trader at a bargain price. Despite his doubts about the low price tag, he decided to view the vehicle. When William went to meet the seller, he felt the seller was acting suspiciously. In addition, the V5 document didn’t look right, so William decided to check the car with HPI.
The HPI Check revealed the vehicle identification number (VIN) for the vehicle did not match the VIN that was on the V5 document. Furthermore, HPI revealed the V5 document was part of a batch stolen from the DVLA in 2006. This meant the car was most likely a stolen vehicle, which the seller was trying to pass off as another car — a trick called cloning.
"William was right to be suspicious of the low price and the V5 book but too many used-car buyers miss these vital warning signs," advises Nicola Johnson, Consumer Services Manager for HPI. "It’s easy to be duped by a bargain price and shiny paintwork, but that’s how buyers fall into the fraudster’s trap.
Consumers must conduct simple checks to protect themselves, and reduce the risk of buying a clone. The economic downturn means car thieves are using any trick they can to cheat buyers out of their hard- earned cash. Anyone buying a clone stands to lose the car and the money they paid for it and if the vehicle is revealed as stolen, it will be returned to its rightful owner. But an HPI check will help buyers like William to make the right decision, protecting them and their money."
Following the advice from HPI, William decided to walk away.
"Given the car was for my sister, I felt particularly responsible for making sure everything was above board," he said. "The HPI Check report saved us from buying a potentially stolen car, which she could have lost at any time. I would recommend anyone buying a used car to check it out with HPI beforehand."
As well as confirming whether the car is registered as stolen, has been written off or is on finance, the HPI Check also protects buyers with the HPI guarantee, which provides up to £30,000 financial reimbursement in the event of the car not being everything it seems, including a clone.