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Fake number plates produced in minutes

Published 11 September 2018

Your car could be illegally cloned within minutes as companies fail to carry out necessary identity checks when selling number plates.

The process of car cloning is when criminals steal another car's identity by using its number plate on another vehicle. This is often done to hide motoring offences such as driving without insurance, tax or MoT - but it could also be used to throw police off the scent following a more serious crime.

To cut down on car cloning, only DVLA registered suppliers can legally produce UK car number plates. Those doing so must make certain basic checks when selling a number plate - including proof of the buyer's name and address, as well as their right to use that number plate (such as the car's V5 registration document).

However, an investigation by the BBC has found that many companies fail to ask for the necessary paperwork before selling number plates. This means criminals can get fake number plates made quickly and easily within minutes, with no questions asked.

One firm supplied three cloned plates without question. It was then able to produce an additional set in just 10 minutes. Another claimed that their software automatically checked with the DVLA - the Government agency said no such system existed.

There are no official statistics about the number of cloned vehicles on UK roads but a number of victims have contacted Honest John in recent years.

If you suspect your car might have been cloned (e.g. if you get a speeding fine that you're definitely not responsible for), you should report it to the police. This will then be issue an alert whenever you pass a police automatic number plate recognition camera, so be prepared to be stopped regularly until the offender is caught.

Have you been the victim of number plate cloning? Tell us your experience with Ask HJ

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