Fake Volvo XC90
I have recently been witness to a dear friend being victim of Car Cloning. She purchased a Volvo Xc90 7-Seater with cash. Although she undertook a vehicle check using the visible VIN numbers the original VIN number had been replaced with a new one.
The vehicle check service clarifies whether the car has been stolen, written off or has any finance outstanding. You can check online or by telephone using services from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and private vehicle check companies.
Despite all the Checks it was Stolen
Now although she had undertaken this check she used the VIN number located on the vehicle. This is located in a number of places, for example on the chassis or in some cars such as the Xc90 on the bottom of the front window. However it seems that the "criminals" changed the original VIN codes, of a stolen Volvo XC90 with the VIN codes of a vehicle with a clear history. Ironically the original car is actually located about 30 miles away !!
Recent research has indicated that there maybe up to 10,000 cloned, (also known as twinned) vehicles on the roads. Victims often end up having to return their vehicles to the insurance company with no recompense because the car that they thought they'd insured was not actually the car insured. It is a horrific crime that is becoming more and more common in the United Kingdom.
Vin Information Required
I am writing to all Car Manufacturers to provide me information of where VIN information is located on 7-Seaters and how to make sure that the VIN numbers on the vehicle you intend to buy are legitimate.
What did Volvo Say?
I wrote to Volvo Cars Customer Service regarding this incident and they were more than happy to provide me with detailed information on how to verify authenticity of a Volvo Xc90. Here is their response:-
To reduce the risk of anybody else being in the unfortunate circumstance as your colleague. There are various places on the vehicle where identification information is stamped or labelled (usually by destructive labbeling, ie. they can't be removed without breaking/tearing), dependant on the Model Year:
- Product plate on the B pillar - shows the colour codes of the exterior and interior amongst other technical information.
- Decal, (Vehicle Identification Sticker) on the timing cover - type and serial number of the engine. This information is also stamped on the engine block itself.
- Decal on gearbox - type and serial number of the gearbox. This information is also stamped on the gearbox itself.
- Visible VIN - on a plate on the bottom of the windscreen on the left hand side.
- VIN plate - located in the engine compartment on the upper side of the bulkhead.
The information can be cross referenced to the V5C and also customers can contact Volvo Customer Relations Department to check our vehicle database which holds the serial numbers of the components fitted to the vehicle at the time of build.
They also advised my colleague to contact their customer service department and that they would assist the Police in any way they could. Other tips when buying a car privately include:
- Taking a photo of the seller with the car.
- Recording any addresses and phone numbers used in the transaction.
- Inspect all VIN Codes with a magnifying glass if you have to.
- Inspect all documents thoroughly.
- Contact the dealer customer services for any verification.
- Check where you stand with your own insurance.
- Check the tax disc it should have a stamp from the Post Office or DVLA and nothing else.
The Police have now finished their investigations and have called the car the best clone they have ever seen. All the Police Officers involved are calling it a "lovely piece of Kit!"
Originally Stolen From London
The Volvo XC90 was originally stolen from London in early April in what is called a "creeped burglary". The criminals got the keys from the house and took the Volvo XC90. They spent a month removing all traces of its original identity including removing the entire windscreen and replacing the windscreen identification sticker.
The engine plate had been removed and replaced. The decals on the doors were replaced with new decals that can apparently an be bought on EBay !! Once the criminals had done this they advertised the car in Autotrader for a very competitive price which attracted cash buyers. When the Police removed the decals on the door trim they could see the original VIN stickers had been removed. Because of the way Volvo make the stickers the material tears on removal which makes removing the entire sticker extremely difficult. When the new decals were removed the defaced stickers could easily be seen.
The Money is Gone!
Non of this was covered by the insurance. My friend had to buy the car again from the Police. The DVLA haven't taken responsibility neither have the Car Insurance company. The law Courts haven't prosecuted due to insufficient evidence so my friend is left virtually penniless after buying her dream car twice.
If anyone has any information that they would like to share on this subject then please contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.