Vehicle Cloning Concern

“Perhaps one of the most growing concerns for the SAICB is the alarming rate at which vehicle pic by BBC UK“cloning” is increasing” explains SAICB’s Chief Operations Officer, Hugo Van Zyl. Recent statistics show that in South Africa, vehicles to the value of approximately R8.5 billion are stolen or hijacked on an annual basis. Further statistics show that 36.4% of vehicles valued at R3.1 billion remain in the country and are filtered through the licensing systems, ultimately landing up in the hands of oblivious consumers.

Easily compared to identity theft, vehicle cloning is a term used to describe a vehicle that has had its identity changed usually because it has been stolen or hijacked.  According to the SAICB, “vehicle cloning is not an individual effort; it is the result of a combined syndicate effort, from the mastermind behind the hijacking or vehicle theft to the corrupt official at the licensing department”.

The successful cloning of a vehicle is a result of a well-thought plan. Some of the methods used to obtain the identity of a vehicle include:

  • Purchasing wrecked vehicles: Syndicates purchase wrecked vehicles at auctions and other vehicle salvage centres. The particulars of the wrecked vehicle are taken and transferred onto a stolen or hijacked vehicle. The SAICB has also identified this as an extremely costly method which does leave a paper trail, making it easy to trace back to the purchaser of the wrecked vehicle.
  • Using dormant records on the eNatis systems: With the number of corrupt officials increasing in government departments, the use of dormant records in vehicle identity theft is fast becoming a growing trend. Dormant records on the system are usually a result of vehicles that were built by South African manufacturers and then exported to other countries. Additionally, when a foreigner purchases a pre-owned vehicle and takes it across the borders of South Africa, the records still remain on the eNatis system. Van Zyl describes this as one of the most efficient vehicle cloning methods as the vehicle is no longer in the country, making tracking difficult to impossible.
  • Using live records of vehicles: This method involves criminals “hijacking” the live records and registration details of vehicles that are financed. When the registered owners want to renew their vehicle’s license, they find that the vehicle is no longer registered in his/her name.

“These are some of the most common methods, and while vehicle cloning is growing at a rapid pace in South Africa, we notice that syndicates are uncovering other more advanced methods of operation” Van Zyl added.

We advise consumers to be vigilant when making vehicle purchases to avoid falling victim to vehicle cloning. Some precautions include:

  • Buy only from reputable dealers and take practical steps to verify the identification of the car prior to purchasing
  • Ensure the vehicle has two sets of keys and that the keys for the doors and ignitions correlate
  • Do not pay with a substantial amount of cash

20 March 2015 By Hugo Van Zyl – SAICB – Article from RISKWIRED