Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 13:13 UK

Cloned cars cost drivers 100,000

Number plates
Car cloning is vehicle equivalent of identity fraud

Car buyers are being warned by police to ensure they are not purchasing so-called cloned vehicles.

Devon and Cornwall Police said 10 stolen vehicles were recently recovered after being bought in Devon for more than £100,000 by unsuspecting drivers.

The cars had been stolen and given new false identities, copied from a similar vehicle already on the road.

The stolen cars were returned to their real owners but the people who bought them lost their money, police said.

Devon and Cornwall Police said cloning was the "vehicle equivalent of identity fraud" and was usually done by giving the vehicle a false set of number plates, an illegal copy of its log book and a different vehicle identification number (VIN).

'Check log book'

Vehicle Investigations Officer Pc Mark Humphries, who recovered the stolen vehicles, said there were steps which could be taken to avoid becoming a victim.

He said buyers were advised not to pay with large amounts of cash, check all the car's details and if the deal seemed too good to be true, it probably was.

"There are three main ways to spot a clone: check the log book, inspect the car and identify the VIN," he said.

"Check all the VIN and chassis numbers on the vehicle to ensure they match.

"If the seller won't let you do any of these, walk away."



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