Cloned cars part of R8.5bn SA vehicle scams | Fin24

Cloned cars part of R8.5bn SA vehicle scams

Aug 25 2014 12:04

Johannesburg - A staggering R8.5bn worth of vehicles are stolen and hijacked in SA annually, according to Hugo van Zyl, CEO of the South African Insurance Crime Bureau (SAICB).

The majority of these, almost 30%, are taken across the border to neighbouring countries where syndicates are making huge profits and South Africans are footing the bill.

"Cloned vehicle and cross-border syndicates are a growing concern, thanks to our porous borders and the fact that crime prevention stakeholders aren’t yet pooling resources effectively," said Van Zyl.

Data sharing is the key in hiw view. Therefore, he called on business and crime prevention to stand together now.

Of the R8.5bn worth of vehicles stolen, R4.9bn's worth are taken across the border, R3.1bn stay in SA as cloned vehicles and R514m end up in chop shops across SA.

To make matters worse, last year approximately 39 000 vehicles re-appeared into the system, costing a fortune for the insurance industry to pay out claims where they were unaware that these vehicles were in fact cloned.

"When you insure a cloned vehicle, insurance companies don’t have to pay out, because the incorrect vehicle is reflected on the books," he said.

In the recent past criminals have targeted dealerships, stealing directly from showroom floors and wash bays.

"Today, tech-enabled syndicates have upped their game and have the ability to take over the identity of the vehicle owner in numerous scams. Panelbeating shops fall prey to this, as criminals impersonate the vehicle owner, pay the excess of the claim at the shop and drive off with the vehicle," said Van Zyl.

Scam alert

Social media is proving a fruitful channel, too. When people complain on the facebook page of the OEMs and manufacturers they receive an email from the "official" website of the manufacturer saying they will collect the vehicle and repair it for free.

Members of the syndicate arrive and the owner never sees his vehicle again.

Van Zyl cited further trends on the rise being the hijacking of trucks, "yellow metal" vehicles, trailers and cargo, accident staging and false documentation sophistication.

The scam "hula hoops" is when a vehicle owner, who cannot afford the repayments any longer, arranges with criminals to take the vehicle off his hands for a small amount.

Then he lodges a fraudulent claim for the hijacking of his vehicle at the vehicle’s full value.

The scam "phantom passengers", that is falsely claiming that a passenger was seriously injured in an accident, is also prevalent.

The positives

By the same token, he also shared the positives. There is an increased involvement from SA Police Service, SA National Defence Force and SA Development Community countries. Pound clean ups in Gauteng, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland at vehicle testing stations are also helping as well as the Provincial Vehicle Crime Forums (PVCF).

When it comes to technology, vehicle tracking and micro-dotting companies, car rental companies and banks are playing a big role.

"Partnership between micro-dotting and tracking companies are starting to make inroads and this is an example of taking a stand together", said Van Zyl.

Ron Knott-Craig, executive operations director at vehicle intelligence safety company Tracker, said there are many ways to effectively partner to combat crime.

Tracker's relationship with Saps has resulted in over 13 000 arrests and the recovery of some 67 000 stolen and hijacked vehicles.

"Our vehicle intelligence data gives us insight into the operations of these syndicates and more importantly, their modus operandi. Sharing quality data with crime prevention bodies will hugely assist in piecing together the full picture," said Knott-Craig.

"Furthermore, we need to develop a more entrenched culture of collaboration between the private and the public sector, the media and members of the public."

- Fin24

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tracker  |  economy  |  auto industry  |  scams


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