Organised car crime group sentenced for £2m fraud conspiracy

By automotive-mag.com 6 Min Read

Sixteen people have been sentenced for taking part in a £2 million fraud conspiracy which targeted high-value cars.

According to Hertfordshire Constabulary several men were given fake identity documents by an organised crime group that had made fraudulent credit agreements using stolen information.

Once credit had been finalised with car dealers across the country, it was arranged for the men, who were known as ‘strikers’, to collect cars from different locations such as hotel car parks.

The fraud ran from February 2020 to July 2022 during which time 75 cars, including Porsches, Mercedes and BMWs valued at more than £2 million, were stolen.

Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Specialist Investigation Team worked with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) and National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) on the long-running investigation to build a picture of how the scam was being coordinated by criminals around the country.

The two members of the gang, who arranged false MOT documentation, were sentenced to two years, suspended for 18 months for fraud by false representation.

The primary offenders of the gang all pleaded guilty and previously appeared in court. They were sentenced for periods ranging from 14 months to four years and 10 months.

Detective Sergeant Will Daglish from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Specialist Investigation Team said: “The organised crime group formulated an elaborate fraud to purchase high value vehicles from dealerships across the UK, on finance agreements using fake identities and documentation.

“The gang organisers paid lower ranking drivers to collect and deliver the vehicles, after which they would totally reidentify the stolen vehicles, to trick unsuspecting buyers and make it harder to reclaim the cars once the ruse was uncovered.”

Jon Radford, Head of Intelligence, Investigations and Data Services at the IFB, said: “We’re pleased to see justice has been served following one of our biggest ever investigations involving identity theft; in collaboration with Hertfordshire Police, NaVCIS and our insurer members.

“This shameless group of scammers stole the identities of hundreds of people to take out fraudulent insurance policies, without a regard for the impact on victims, in an elaborate bid to steal brand new cars through finance deals.

“Identity theft is a growing threat which results in real harm, as it facilitates a wide range of crimes. We encourage the public to be vigilant and if anyone thinks their personal info has been compromised for an insurance scam, to report it to our confidential CheatLine.”

“Sharon Naughton, Head of NaVCIS, said: “We are delighted to have assisted Hertfordshire Constabulary in bringing these offenders to justice.

“NaVCIS bridge the gap between policing and industry and were able to aid this investigation and prosecution by delivering an overarching intelligence and analytical provision for its duration. This included securing and preserving evidence, liaising with external statutory partners including the DVLA and DVSA and working with industry partners to secure statements from witnesses, business and individual victims, including members of the public.

 

“This was determined and sophisticated criminality with multiple victims for each fraudulently obtained vehicle. Those who had their details stolen in the first place that were used to illegally obtain finance for vehicles, the garages, vehicle manufacturers and finance companies who were defrauded, and those who the cars were eventually sold on to who were all ultimately left out of pocket once the vehicles were seized.

 

“NaVCIS were able to elevate the knowledge and understanding of police investigators by giving insights on the behaviours and patterns of the criminals involved which helped secure their arrests and bring them to justice. The sentences reflect the prolific nature of the offending and the sheer scale of economic fraud.

“We urge anybody purchasing a second-hand car to ensure they have taken every effort to guarantee that the information given to you is accurate. Ask to see evidence of MOT certificates and service history and contact the garages concerned to confirm their authenticity. If the price is too good to be true, trust your instincts.

“Do not pay cash if you are offered a discount, keep a paper trail. Cloning of stolen vehicles has become extremely difficult to detect. If you buy and drive a stolen car, your insurance will not be valid and this will incur an uninsured loss when the vehicle is seized.”

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