Beware of Cloned Cars From the UK

"Beware of Cloned Cars"

That's the message from Caroline Curneen, PR and Marketing Manager at the European Consumer Centre Ireland.
The ECC has said that the threat of cloned cars being sold in Ireland was significantly increased following the theft in 2006 of blank registration documents from the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea. A recent investigation by the BBC showed that vehicles worth £13m have been stolen as a result of the loss of thousands of blank DVLA log books.
Just how many cloned cars have made it onto Irish roads is unclear but possession of blank registration documents has allowed fraudsters to copy the genuine vehicles log book which makes the cloning much more difficult to detect.

Buyer Beware!

A recent TV programme looks at the problem of cloned vehicles on Irish roads.

According to Caroline Curneen, PR and Marketing Manager of ECC Ireland,
"This is a scam which may affect Irish consumers as they increasingly are choosing to shop cross border for larger items such as cars with many consumers discovering that it is often cheaper to buy a car in the UK and register it in Ireland.
A consumer may only discover that they have purchased a cloned car when they are issued a parking fine or speeding ticket. If you buy a stolen car, you risk losing the vehicle and your money even though you bought the car in good faith so it is imperative that consumers carry out comprehensive checks on any vehicle before purchase".
You can perform an instant check on any vehicle registered on Irish, Northern Irish or UK roads by entering its registration number in the box now:
Motorcheck automatically includes the UK history with every imported vehicle so you don't have to be concerned with finding its previous registration numbers.

Top Tips for Identifying Cloned Cars

The following tips have been complied by the ECC and will assist you in determining whether or not the car you're looking at could be a clone.

  • There are three main ways to spot a clone – check the log book, inspect the car and identify the VIN (vehicle identity number).
  • Check the vehicle registration document (V5C). Buyers should not proceed with the sale until this document has been produced and they have examined it carefully. Look out for any obvious spelling mistakes. The registration document should have a watermark, the number plate should be clearly listed, the VIN and engine numbers matching those of the car should be listed as should the name and address of the seller. There should be no spelling mistakes or alterations. You can check the validity of the logbook by calling the DVLA.
  • Check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) plates for signs of tampering. A VIN is a car’s unique identity number. They are usually located in several places, under the bonnet, under the driver’s seat and on the chassis.
    Car Thief
    Car Thief

    Some cars have the VIN etched into the glass on a window or sunroof so check to see if there are signs that the VIN number has been scratched off or that stickers are not concealing a VIN number. Make sure that all plates have the same number and look for signs that it may have been removed. When you decide what make and model you are interested in, find out where the vehicle identification number (VIN) is on that vehicle. You will then know where to look and check it’s correct.

  • Check that numbers listed on the registration document match the car’s number plate, engine number and VIN. Be certain that the V5 certificate is genuine and hasn't been changed in any way.
  • Be on the lookout for stolen registration certificates. The DVLA has provided a range of serial numbers of known stolen registration certificates on their website. If you find one that is in the range of BG8229501 to BG9999030 or BI2305501 to BI2800000 do not proceed with the sale and contact the police.
  • Carry out a vehicle check with a vehicle data-check company. This won’t be able to identify a cloned car, but it will tell you if a vehicle has been recorded stolen, written off, scrapped or has outstanding finance.
Cash for Used Cars - March 24, 2010 at 9:39 pm
Great story! we need awareness on this matter. I was almost a victim of a similar scam.
Shane Teskey - March 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm
Thanks Christine, What happened? How did you avoid the scam?
Pat O'Toole - April 24, 2010 at 2:17 am
Just like to inform you of a car I purchased at in November 1996 - Black Nissan Almera GX (not GXS as listed on your site. I had a very bad smash in this car on 15th December 1997. Airbag went off, windscreen cracked, drivers seatbelt would not retract, radiator split, battery retaining bolt pierced bonnet as it folded, bumper smashed,grille, left headlight and indicator smashed,right indicator hanging from electric cable etc. Fire Brigade cut battery cable to prevent fire. Car was insurance write-off and Nissan main dealer (where car was purchased as 8 month old ex-lease car) accepted remains of car as trade-in against a new car.
Pat O\'Toole - April 24, 2010 at 2:31 am
Surprised to see that my old car is not listed as writeoff on your website - it was written off on 15th December 1997, yet I see it is still on the road in 2010. SO MUCH DAMAGE THAT NISSAN MAIN DEALER DID NOT BOTHER TO COMPLETE INVENTORY OF WHAT WAS NEEDED TO REPAIR CAR BUT SOLD REMAINS OF CAR (WHICH THEY ACCEPTED AS A TRADE-IN) TO AN "EQUALLY REPUTABLE DEALER" - I crashed the car (which to the lay-man needed : front wings, grille, bumper, bonnet, headlight, indicator, radiator, airbag, drivers seatbelt, windscreen, battery power lead (cut by fire brigade) front registration plate and god knows what else - I am not a mechanic.
Shane Teskey - May 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm
Hi Pat, Thanks for letting us know. It may be that the insurance company in question wrote it off as a category c or d write-off. This means that it wouldn't have been notified to the department of transport as a write-off and as a result can go undetected. We've added a condition alert to our database that will show up if anyone queries its history on
r norris - January 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm
is my vehicle likely to be cloned? on data checks the vehicle reg details come up correctly as a citreon van yet when trying to insure the vehicle there is no infomation of the vehicle using the reg number? help!
Tollie - September 27, 2012 at 11:29 pm
Hi Shane, Could you please let me know if a stolen car or bike comes up on your site as stolen in the free check as well? My bike and car were stolen a month ago and when I check their license plate numbers, they do not come up as stolen? Thanks, Tollie