Skip advert
Advertisement

Luxury car ‘re-steal’ scams on the rise

Unsuspecting buyers are being sold cloned cars, which are then being targeted by thieves again

Car crime - Evoque

A ‘worrying increase’ in the numbers of unsuspecting drivers purchasing a cloned vehicle, only to have it pinched again within days by the same gang that sold it to them, has led one of the UK’s most experienced motor loss adjusters to warn consumers to take extra care.

Former detective Philip Swift, now managing director of Claims Management and Adjusting, says the so-called ‘re-steal’ scam is particularly prevalent in the north of England, where gangs are using the same car repeatedly with a new cloned identity each time to net big illicit profits. In many cases the bill ends up with insurers, causing everyone’s premium to rise.

“The resteal involves a combination of theft and fraud repeated in rapid succession to devastating effect,” says Swift. “We live in an age where technology enables a vehicle masquerading as another to be discovered with relative ease. The criminals know this, so they use fake identities and change their addresses frequently.”

Advertisement - Article continues below

According to the former cop, the unscrupulous crooks leave havoc in their wake, both for innocent purchasers of the cloned vehicle, and the owner of the car whose identity has been replicated. “The former will have to explain to their insurance company that their new car has been stolen, which immediately sets alarm bells ringing. The latter might be merrily driving along when they are stopped and arrested – because the police understandably, though incorrectly, believe they have found a stolen car; in fact, they have detained a victim of vehicle identity theft,” says Swift. 

The increasing incidence of resteal crime is down to the fact that it offers many advantages to the scammers. That’s because using the same car means criminals are familiar with the identity points that need changing and, because they’ve already duped other buyers, they know the vehicle has avoided in-depth scrutiny.

“That means, having kept a key back, or obtained a duplicate pre-sale, they have clear opportunity and motive to nick the vehicle back again,” reckons Swift, whose company CMA operates a computer system that automatically flags anything unusual linked to all vehicle registration marks it is monitoring.

With re-steal crime on the rise, the loss adjusting firm has come up with the following advice for consumers: 1) If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, 2) Use official finance channels, never pay cash, 3) Invest in a full vehicle provenance check prior to purchase, 4) Consider fitting a tracking device, and 5) Have your car key reprogrammed by a main dealer, just as you would change the locks when moving into a new house.

Have you been a victim of car crime? Tell us about your experience in the comments section...

Skip advert
Advertisement
Web producer

Pete has over 20 years journalistic experience. Having previously worked for Ladbrokes and the Racing Post, he switched from sports writing to automotive journalism when joining Auto Express in 2015.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Lower UK energy price cap brings cheaper EV charging
Vauxhall Astra GSE connected to a home wallbox charger
News

Lower UK energy price cap brings cheaper EV charging

Energy regulator Ofgem has announced the energy price cap which shall stay in place until September, unlocking lower home charging prices for EV owner…
24 May 2024
When is a pothole not a pothole? Inconsistent council repair policies make bad situation worse
Pothole sign
News

When is a pothole not a pothole? Inconsistent council repair policies make bad situation worse

A new TV documentary shows how different councils operate on different parameters when it comes to deciding whether to fix a pothole
22 May 2024
UK self-driving car “revolution” incoming: new law allows autonomous vehicles by 2026
Tesla Model Y - interior
News

UK self-driving car “revolution” incoming: new law allows autonomous vehicles by 2026

A new law is set to bring self-driving cars to UK roads in two years and puts responsibility in the hands of manufacturers if there is an accident
20 May 2024
New EV grant brings £5k electric car discount… but only if you’re an Uber driver
Electric car hooked up to chargepoint
News

New EV grant brings £5k electric car discount… but only if you’re an Uber driver

Uber drivers in London can now save up to £22,000 off the price of a new EV as part of the firm’s push for electrification
20 May 2024

Most Popular

New 2024 Nissan Qashqai prices and specs announced as family SUV war heats up
Nissan Qashqai reveal - full front
News

New 2024 Nissan Qashqai prices and specs announced as family SUV war heats up

The start price for the Nissan Qashqai has increased by £3,000 due to the loss of the old entry-level Visia trim
24 May 2024
New Porsche 911 revealed and it's got hybrid power
Porsche 911 GTS - front
News

New Porsche 911 revealed and it's got hybrid power

Porsche’s mid-generation 992.2 update introduces a hybrid powertrain for the first time
28 May 2024
Suzuki Swift vs MG3 2024 twin test: bargain small car battle
MG3 and Suzuki Swift - front cornering
Car group tests

Suzuki Swift vs MG3 2024 twin test: bargain small car battle

The Ford Fiesta’s demise has left a yawning chasm in the supermini class. Can the new MG3 and Suzuki Swift fill it?
25 May 2024