The Directorate of Criminal Investigations has issued an alert about a new trend of crime, whereby one is hoodwinked into buying a car leased out by car-hire companies.
The elaborate scheme involves rogue car hire agents who share a vehicle’s details with the conmen so as to cheat unsuspecting buyers. Armed with the ownership details as per the logbook (including name of owner, year of car manufacture, chassis and engine number), the conmen duplicate the car logbook and advertise the car for sale.
This, says the DCI, makes it “difficult for their to-be customers to detect any discrepancies…after conducting search” (at the NTSA database). “It is until the innocent buyers demand that car logbooks be transferred into their names that they realize they were duped into illegal deals.”
But by that time, the buyers will have parted with a huge percentage of the quoted cost of the vehicle. The sellers in the meantime go underground. “Meanwhile, the car hire agents will have moved to the police to report that cars they hired out were long past the agreed date of return. On being tracked down, they are found in the hands of victims who have no idea they are suspects in motor vehicle thievery,” says the sleuths.
DCI says its working towards cracking this syndicate. It is also cautioning the public against entering into vehicle purchase deals with vendors who have no physical address, “some of whom transact in stolen and/or counterfeit products that often get victims in trouble with the law.”