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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Exposed: Criminals behind huge car fraud
Quentin Willson stands in front of stolen Japanese cars all intended for sale in the UK
Quentin Willson went to Dubai to expose the scam
In an investigation that spanned the globe, car expert Quentin Willson went undercover to expose the biggest car fraud in the world and the international criminals behind it.

The BBC has discovered that over the last four years tens of thousands of stolen Japanese cars have been secretly imported into Britain and sold as legitimate vehicles.

The cars involved include Toyota Landcruisers, Honda NSX's and Lexus 400's.

Car thief targeting a Japanese car
Tens of thousands of Japanese cars are stolen every year
Now British police are poised to seize many of these motors and restore them to their rightful owners.

Many of them have no idea what is going on. It's a crime that will eventually cost thousands of British motorists well over 1bn.

As Watchdog investigated this story it became clear that organised criminals were part of the plan.

The Yakuza, or Japanese mafia, have been stealing high value used cars, often worth up to 30,000 on the UK market, shipping them out of Japan in containers and sending them to Dubai.

Car conspiracy

Dubai, which has a free trade zone, plays an important role within this conspiracy where under the desert sun, cars are being given false papers and new identities.

Karim is a key player in the scam
Some of the older cars are even changed to appear as newer models.

One source has claimed that up to half a million Japanese cars have come through this route from Japan.

Dubai, it seems, has a whole industry solely dedicated to changing the identities of thousands of stolen cars.

Middle man

One of the key players amidst this conspiracy is the middle man responsible for bringing thousands of Japanese cars into Britain - a car dealer from Dubai called Karim.

Karim has several contacts in the UK, one of whom is Neel Chudasama.

Neel Chudasama
Neel Chudasama admits importing stolen cars into Britain
Watchdog tracked down Mr Chudasama to his mansion in the heart of Bedfordshire and sent in an undercover team, posing as car buyers, to find out a little bit more about his line of work.

Not only did he admit to bringing in stolen cars but he bragged about how he could falsify their identities to make them appear new.

But Mr Chudasama is one of many people involved in the importation of stolen cars.

It is only in the last few months that the police have started to realise the sheer scale of this fraud.

Enormous problem

The scam was first uncovered in Hampshire, where officers say that up to 50% of identified cars stopped are stolen.

Quentin Willson in Dubai
Quentin Willson prepares to go undercover with shirt pocket glasses case hiding a camera
Large numbers of motorists now stand to lose both their cars and their money. The problem is starting to look enormous.

DCI Ryan from the Metropolitan Police advises anyone who suspects they have a stolen Japanese Import to "batten down the hatches and be aware that it's going to be a difficult time".

"The reality is you have to be safe and you have to be legal.

"So if you find out that the car is stolen, you have to tell your insurance company because the worst thing that could happen is you could have an accident and find you're not insured because you withheld a material fact from them."

Watch the Biggest Car Fraud in the World report on Watchdog, BBC1, Wednesday at 1930BST.

A telephone number and website address will be given at the end of the programme to help those concerned about the issues raised in this report.

See also:

19 Jul 98 | Asia-Pacific
Car smuggling rampant in China
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