Insurers set for windfall

Insurers are set to recover some of the millions they have paid out on fraudulent claims as the police crack down on a “car cloning” fraud involving stolen vehicles.

Police have so far recovered 640 vehicles, worth £6.4m, which insurers have already paid out for. Insurers can now recoup some of that sum by selling the cars.

The fraud began at the end of 2006 when a large batch of car registration forms destined for the shredder went missing from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Fraudsters matched stolen vehicles to ones of the same colour and type being driven legitimately.

They filled in the blank documents and changed the licence plates and vehicle identification number of the stolen cars.

The scam was so sophisticated that customers buying the stolen vehicles only found out the truth once the DVLA had examined its databases, long after they had paid for the cars.

Detective Sergeant Mark Tidy of the Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, part of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said: “We are looking at a highly organised criminal organisation. Some people are making a lot of money.”

No one has been charged in relation to the incidents yet.

“The trouble is, we do not know how many documents are out there. This could go on and on,” said Tidy.

A spokesman for Royal Bank of Scotland Insurance (RBSI) said: “Where we have paid a claim for a stolen car, and that car is recovered, we have procedures in place to enable us to recoup our losses via our salvage network where possible.

“We advise used car purchasers to validate vehicle provenance before they purchase the car. The DVLA can verify ownership for a few pounds.”