What are car cloning scams?

Friday 17th May 2024

Has your car been cloned? Not only could it cost you thousands in parking charges and fines, it could also lead to you being wrongly accused of committing a serious crime. However, there are things you can do to prevent a cloning incident from occurring. Our article covers everything you need to know about car cloning scams. 

What is car cloning? 

Car cloning involves criminals stealing the identity of a legally registered vehicle and using it to hide the salvaged or stolen vehicle’s identity. The criminals will try to sell it or use your car’s registration to commit further crimes, which may include: 

  • Driving off from petrol stations without paying for fuel. 
  • Using the vehicle in a robbery. 
  • Driving in clean air or congestion zones without paying the charges. 

If the cloned car has been involved in unlawful activity, the offences will be attributed to the registered owner of the legally registered vehicle. 

How does car cloning work?  

There are many methods used to clone cars. Criminals will often browse car showrooms, or look through classified adverts, to find a make and model like the vehicle that has been salvaged or stolen, then clone the registration plate to hide the identity of the stolen car. Alternatively, they may just steal the registration plate and attach it to their vehicle or falsify legal documents and change the car’s vehicle identification number, which effectively masks the identity of the stolen car. 

How prevalent is car cloning? 

Car cloning is one of the fastest-growing crimes happening in the UK. While no data is publicly available about car cloning statistics, some police forces estimate that up to 20% of cars in the UK have cloned registration plates.  

How do I know if I’ve been involved in a car cloning scam? 

You may realise your car has been cloned when: 

  • You receive a penalty charge notice (PCN) or a speeding fine that is unlikely to relate to a time or place where you would have been driving. 
  • Your car’s number plates are physically stolen from your vehicle and are used for criminal activity. 

Always check penalty notices or speeding tickets carefully. You may be the victim of car cloning. 

What should I do if my car has been cloned? 

Has your car been cloned? Did you receive a ticket for a driving offence you didn’t commit? You should contact the police and DVLA immediately. The police will investigate the offence and give you a crime number. Ensure you document and gather as much evidence as possible, whether through CCTV footage or any tickets you’ve received through the post. The more information you have, the better. 

How can I stop my car from being cloned? 

There are several things you can do to prevent your car from being cloned, such as: 

  • Parking it in a secure location, such as a garage or a well-lit area. 
  • Install a tracker, dash cam or CCTV. 
  • Use theft-resistant number plate screws. 
  • Be careful when sharing information on social media. Make sure you blur or obscure the number plate of your vehicle if posting pictures or videos of your car. 

Protecting yourself from car cloning scams will ensure you don’t get accused of breaking the law by the police and DVLA. Have you received a DVLA scam text on your phone? Our article looks at DVLA scam texts to be aware of. Look after your car and plan ahead by booking an annual service or MOT at one of our nationwide Formula One Autocentres branches today. 

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