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So, imagine that a week ago you bought a "new" car.  You've jumped through the bureaucratic hoops, paid you road tax, your extortionate insurance and the DVLA is informed......

Then, barely a week later, you get post.  Demands with menaces from councils (yes, plural!) accusing you of traffic infringements with, apparently photographic evidence of your sins.......

But wait.... Cambridge?  Where even is Cambridge?  It's not round 'ere.  You haven't been to Cambridge.... or even Chelmsford.  In fact, looking at the dates and times of the alleged offences, one took place about the time that you saw the car for the first time.... in Exeter.  More than 4 hours away as google flies.......  At this point in time it would still have been in the previous owners name because you hadn't even agreed to buy it yet.....

And how has your new car been photographed in a Chelmsford bus lane, when it was actually more than 4 hours away in a works car park in Devon on the first day it took you to work?

The photos are quite convincing.  Same make and model, same colour.  Same reg number.  Your car has an evil twin......  A worrying thought strikes.... perhaps your car is the evil twin...... perhaps the nice old couple you bought it from are actually scammers...... You rush out to check the VIN.  But it's ok... the VIN matches your shiney new V5.

So how can your car be in two places at once?  Simples...... some dishonest bastard saw the reg on Facebook market place and thought.... hey, that's handy, that's just like my car (or the one I've just swiped).

But what do you do about this?  Obviously you have to write to the councils explaining why you have no intention of paying them anything.  But a crime has been committed..... and this may only be the tip of the iceberg.

One might think the police would be interested.  Devon police however it seems would struggle to care less.  Crime no?  Piss off son, that'll bugger our stats and it's nothing to do with us.  Should you try the Cambridgeshire and Essex constabularies where the evil twin seems to be operating?  What about the DVLA?  The subject is taboo on their website.  No mention.  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.

You're on your own apparently.  Guilty until you can (hopefully) prove your innocence......

So what should you do?

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Hi Nick,

the system is truly flawed. But there may be little ways of proving where you were/weren't.

Most purchasing  transactions these days (even for small amounts) use touch & go card swipe. The time/date is recorded every time.

The police where the crime is committed MUST act as it is their responsibility. If the local cop shop does nothing you go up the chain.

 

Roger

 

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Hi Nick

Roger's right.  You will also have starred in countless CCTV films during the time in question (Britain... the most monitored country in the world).  It's a pain to amass the evidence (and a waste of your time), but it shouldn't be too difficult to build a body of evidence.

Also, the car hasn't committed a crime, the driver has.  The image(s) t'council claim to have should have at least one readable mugshot of the driver.

... unless they've cloned you as well...

Trouble is, you can quash this one, but plod won't be interested in finding the culprit, so it may happen again.  Probably worth contacting your insurers as well, so that they are prepared for when this toe rag does a hit-and-run and the injured party takes a note of the reg no.

Paul

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If you can get this to court, and a conviction, then the sentence can be from 1 1/2 times the weekly income to 2 years in gaol.   See: https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/offences/magistrates-court/item/vehicle-licenceregistration-fraud/

The Police could spin it in a number of way, depending on circumstances, from " Using a motor vehicle displaying incorrect licence plates" (Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994) to "Going equipped for theft" if they had a history of crime, to actual theft, if they used it to steal fuel (Theft Act. 1968),  which could increase the penalty.     But the Police are strapped by reduced manpower.   Such offenders and the evidence are difficult to find.

Meanwhile, this insurance website offers some ideas on protecting yourself, up to getting a new registration for your car.    https://www.primoregistrations.co.uk/article/view/cloned-number-plates-what-you-should-do-if-it-happens-to-you

John

 

Edited by JohnD
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It’s not I who is afflicted, or not directly, but a younger family member less hardened to the wicked ways of the world.....

I have noted that some of the better written “action guides” are on the private reg dealer sites..... and their interest is fairly obvious.

What irritates me is that it’s a significant and growing issue that “authority” ignores. It feels like it intended to be difficult to report so they can continue to not have data on the scale of the problem and thus continue to ignore it.

Cynical....? Moi?

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Needless to say, the process of a vehicle being given new plates when it changes ownership has other problems, but screening sales sites for registration plates to clone is not one of them.  Also, plates being issued with a visible hologram helps those in the know (erm...?) to identify 'unofficial' ones.

I was giving no.2 cadet a lift the other day and, being a numberplate nerd, he immediately identified something wrong with the car in front of us.  A newish Merc coupe with a Polish-style plate (correct font, spacing, colours), but no hologram and something unusual about the letter configuration, so he took a snap and circulated it around his fellow nerds.  We were still in the same queue with the Merc in front of us when the answer plopped onto his screen - it was a UK number, cleverly grouped to make it look like a Polish plate, correct Mercedes model, but SORN.  So, a bigger question than "I wonder whether he has insurance" was this: where do people access that kind of information..?

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A member of a certain car club, not a million miles away, has a number plate that is to every appearance,French.     And from a delectable part of France too.    Colour, style, number and lettering, all spot on.     But the number is his UK registration.     I'm not sure where he's resident, but he says he loves "to annoy traffic wardens and similar jobsworths".

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Spoke to the DVLA today.... after a loooong time on hold.  Can only be reported by post.......:verymad:  If there was even a one-liner on their website saying so I could have saved 30 minutes of my time and about 90 seconds of theirs.  Letter drafted for sir's approval.....

Also did online reports to Essex and Cambs Constabulary.  Not easy as their categorisation makes no allowance for this type of crime and the websites were quite different.   Will be interesting to see what the response is.  If any.

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Another fine landed today.  Parking Eye, Bishops Stortford services.  That's 3 police forces involved.  He had a response from Essex police with a couple of hours - advised to festoon the car with stickers.

" I am the real " stickers to go above the reg?  "I'm not a clone" sunstrip?

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"Often imitated, never duplicated" is disproved by this case, and many others.

And "Imitation is the sincerest sort of flattery" just falls, well, flattery.

How about "There's only one me!"

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Not ideal in some ways, but stick a "private reg" on it?

That would stuff the other bloke, who would then be easy to pick up on ANPR etc 

May be a couple of hundred quid well spent.

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As I observed earlier, it’s no accident the reg merchants all have write-ups on the subject.

Going with “notify every police force in that region” in the home that one of them might catch the bastard.....

If buying your own reg is the only way out..... it’s a pretty poor state of affairs.

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Amusing - if you don't dig too deep - episode of "Interceptors" last night.     Yorkshire's finest were called to a pub car park by a member of the public, who said, "There's a car thief in the pub!"    The MoP had their own car stolen the night before, and had seen a similar car, but not theirs parked outside the pub, with their registration number on!

The police arrived, inspected the car, and set off its alarm, whereupon a matronly lady came out from the house across the road to ask, "Is there a problem, Officer?"    The police deduced that the stolen car was now being driven with her registration on!    Seems a complicated way to clone numbers, but anyway.

But a tip from that prog was about another cloned car - the original had a GB on the number plate, while the cloned did not.   Like stickering the car your family has had cloned, some difference in the actual plate may help, esp. to the eagle-eyed cops.

JOhn

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So possibly the issue may have resolved itself.  Communications today from the insurance co. who had been informed by the police that a vehicle they were apparently insuring had been involved in an accident and been recovered to a police yard.  They were presumably pleased to hear that their actual insured vehicle was safe and undamaged in a works car park 200 miles to the south west and the accident was no concern of theirs.  We are trying to discover more but may not get much more info unless it happens to be in the possession of one of the forces we've already informed.  It would be useful to have something from the police to send on to the various parties with their hands out for fine money!

Hopefully this means that the reg is now "burned" in the eyes of the crims and once any outstanding misdemeanors have worked their way through the system, that'll be it.  It is probably nasty of us to regret that the driver wasn't trapped in his vehicle (by something sensitive) to be apprehended and punished for his crimes, but we do anyway.

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