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HPI Warns Again of Stolen V5 Scam

Fri, 24 Jul 2009

 With fresh headlines hitting the news on used car buyers in Scotland falling foul of fraudsters selling on stolen cars, leading vehicle information expert HPI is warning buyers to be on their guard. 

Before parting with any cash HPI says apply the following rule of thumb – ‘always pay by cheque or banker’s draft, especially if the car is costing more than £3000’.

Organised criminals scammed six motorists in the Lothians out of tens of thousands of pounds after selling them high-value stolen vehicles.  All cases involved the swindlers using stolen DVLA V5s to accompany stolen vehicles that had had their identity changed to match that of a similar legitimate vehicle.  This practice is known as cloning and is the vehicle equivalent of identity fraud.  The criminals disguise the unique 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the stolen cars, as well as using a stolen V5 to try to legitimise its identity. 

“However, simply paying for the car through the banking system could outsmart a criminal,”  explains Nick Lindsay, Director of HPI.  “Most crooks selling cloned cars would rather walk away from a sale than take a payment that could be traced back to them.  Our advice is don’t pay for your purchase with a substantial amount of cash, particularly if the car is costing you more than £3,000. Whilst some cloners will take a bankers draft as part payment, because the cash part is sufficient profit without ever cashing the bankers draft, most will actually walk away.“

The HPI Check is the industry’s number one weapon in the battle against car crime.  It includes a unique stolen V5 document check as standard, which  will confirm whether or not the document is one that the DVLA has notified HPI as being recorded as stolen from them.  

The HPI Check will also reveal whether the car is registered as stolen with the police, has been written-off by an insurance company, or has outstanding  finance against it, and it protects buyers with the HPI Guarantee*. The HPI Guarantee provides up to £30,000 financial reimbursement in the event of the car not being everything it seems – including a clone – or the data held by HPI being inaccurate at the time of the check being conducted.  A condition of the HPI Guarantee is that a buyer must not have paid cash in part of full for the vehicle if it cost more than £3000.

Concludes Nick Lindsay: “We strongly advise buyers to take three simple but vital measures.  Always buy from the registered keeper's address,
don't pay less than 70% of the market value and pay via the banking system.  Yet despite giving this advice, we still hear of unsuspecting members of the public buying cloned cars and suffering significant losses when the vehicles are then found to be stolen and recovered by the police.”

An HPI Check is available online at  If buyers are concerned that they may purchase a cloned vehicle, they should call HPI for further advice on 01722 422422.


A police intelligence unit dedicated to fighting organised vehicle crime such as cloning cars’ identities has received £300,000 to continue its work, Home Office Minister Alan Campbell announced on 22-7-2009

The Association of Chief Police Officers’ Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS) will use the annual grant, which has been increased from £200,000 to £300,000, to fund its ongoing work identifying emerging trends in vehicle crime, co-ordinating intelligence and best practice as well as recovering stolen vehicles, with more than £14 million worth of stolen vehicles reclaimed since 2006.

Vehicle crime remains historically low, however organised criminals continue to develop new ways of profiting from vehicle crime such as cloning legitimate cars’ identities for stolen vehicles and stealing high performance cars to order and shipping them abroad.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:

“Vehicle crime has fallen by 65 per cent since 1995. This is a significant achievement that would not have been possible without the work of AVCIS. By co-ordinating police efforts nationally and working with industry, it has helped make Britain’s cars and vans much harder to steal.

“The Government is determined to keep up this good work which is why we have increased our funding for AVCIS from £200,000 to £300,000 to support its work and the leading role it plays in tackling the constantly evolving challenge of vehicle crime.”

Acting Detective Chief Inspector, Mark Hooper, Head of AVCIS, said:

“My team is absolutely determined to maintain the downward trend which last year saw approximately 65,000 less victims of vehicle crime than the year before. We are operating in a dynamic and ever-changing environment as organised criminals adapt to overcome security measures and evade detection.

“This funding contribution will ensure that we can continue to work with our partners to target criminal activity and drive down vehicle enabled crime, which in turn will have a positive impact on crime rates in general.”

Deputy Chief Constable David Ainsworth, of Wiltshire Police, and Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on vehicle crime, said:

“The bare facts are that criminals involved in vehicle crime, are more often than not, involved in a whole spectrum of offending. This can be anything from low-level disorder and anti-social behaviour to crimes that are well organised, linked to gangs and sometimes are international in their reach and scale. 

“The funding recognises the pivotal role which AVCIS plays in co-ordinating the efforts of enforcement colleagues and many other partners committed to defeating such criminality.  The Minister's support for this vital work is most welcome."

AVCIS also incorporates a number of specialist units to address the wider remits of vehicle crime, including TruckPol, a team focused on freight crime, a specialist leisure sector investigator and the Vehicle Fraud Unit, which investigates organised finance fraud.

Paul Harrison, Head of Motor Finance at the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA), said:

“Financial crime is a big concern during a recession, so I am delighted that the Government has dedicated funding to the police to help combat car fraud and theft. The FLA’s ground-breaking partnership with AVCIS shows what an effective public-private sector partnership can achieve.

“The partnership helps finance companies detect fraudsters and recover their assets, which prevents more serious crimes and helps makes our roads safer for motorists. We look forward to continuing to work with the police.”

During the Minister’s visit to the AVCIS headquarters he saw a number of cloned vehicles as well as the unit’s freight crime prevention trailer and a JCB construction vehicle fitted with the CESAR registration system – a microchip containing ownership details embedded in the machine to deter theft.

He also met industry representatives who work with AVCIS to develop new ways of tackling vehicle related crime.

Notes to editors

1. Police-recorded crime for 2008/2009 shows a 10 per cent fall in offences against vehicles and criminal damage. During the same period the British Crime Survey shows that vehicle-related thefts and vandalism were stable.

2. In 2006/2007 195,000 cars were stolen in the United Kingdom. That number fell to 177,000 in 2007/2008.

3. Since its creation AVCIS has recovered more than 1,400 vehicles. The total value of all recovered assets is more than £32.5 million.

4. AVCIS offers the UK Police Service:

  • A single point of contact for advice in relation to vehicle crime;
  • A team committed to tackling vehicle enabled crime;
  • An opportunity to work free from the barriers and constraints of a single police force;
  • No draw on resources for other operational matters; and
  • A credible voice for the service within the industry.

5. AVCIS’s partnerships with the motor industry include:

  • Tracker, a private Company (now owned by RBS) which provides a vehicle tracking and retrieval service. Tracker works with all 52 police forces in the UK to recover stolen vehicles fitted with their devices. They work with AVCIS to help recover stolen vehicles. For more information about Tracker go to;
  • The Finance and Leasing Association (FLA), the leading trade association for the asset, consumer and motor finance sectors in the UK. Its members comprise banks, subsidiaries of banks and building societies, the finance arms of leading retailers and manufacturing companies, and a range of independent firms. FLA is working closely with AVCIS to tackle the issue of Vehicle Fraud. For more information about FLA go to;
  • HPI, a private company. It has been checking the histories of used cars since 1938. It conducts vehicle checks and provide a service which helps people avoid purchasing cars that have been stolen, clocked, written-off, or that have unpaid finance against them. It has been working closely with AVCIS to protect the public from becoming victims of this type of crime. For more information about HPI go to

6. A business plan outlining AVCIS’s vision, purpose and aims will be published later this year. For more information about AVCIS go to

7. For more information please contact the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535.


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