A new type of scam has surfaced, catching unsuspecting buyers off guard. Known as the ‘re-steal’ scam, it involves the sale of cloned vehicles that are subsequently stolen again by the same criminals who sold them. This alarming practice, highlighted by former detective and now managing director of Claims Management and Adjusting, Philip Swift, is seeing a significant rise in this crime.
These sophisticated criminal gangs repeatedly use the same vehicle, altering its identity each time to dupe new buyers and generate substantial illegal profits. This cycle not only victimizes the buyers but also has a ripple effect on insurance premiums, as insurers often bear the financial brunt of these scams.
Swift, leveraging his extensive experience in law enforcement and loss adjustment, explains the modus operandi of these scams. The criminals employ advanced technology to clone a vehicle’s identity, selling it to an unsuspecting buyer, only to steal it back shortly after using duplicate keys. This leaves the new owner in a precarious situation, having to explain the theft to their insurer, while the original vehicle owner may face wrongful arrest due to identity confusion.
The appeal of the ‘re-steal’ scam to criminals lies in its efficiency and familiarity. By using the same vehicle, they can expertly alter identifying features and confidently evade detailed scrutiny, knowing the car has previously passed superficial checks.
To combat this rising tide of vehicle-related fraud, Swift’s firm, CMA, employs advanced systems that flag anomalies linked to vehicle registrations. Additionally, he offers critical advice to potential buyers to mitigate the risk of falling victim to these scams. This includes skepticism towards deals that seem too good to be true, insistence on using official finance channels, investing in thorough vehicle checks, considering tracking devices, and reprogramming car keys through authorized dealers.