Number plate cloning is sweeping the UK and inflicting fines on thousands of innocent drivers, number plate Welsh experts have warned.
Plates4less is part of VRM Swansea and issued the caution in the wake of receiving more than 50 calls a week from drivers who have been hit by the plate-cloning criminals and landed with fines and legal action against them.
The cloning is allowing criminals to steal fuel, access congestion zones or avoid speeding tickets and not pay for their law-breaking activities. Criminals often look for vehicles that are the same make and model as their often stolen car and choose to clone their number plates. This is because initial checks conducted by officials wouldn’t cause alarm as the number plate would suggest it is on the same model of vehicle.
However, this could lead to the legitimate motorists receiving fines or charges for a vehicle being driven by someone else – with the same number plates.
According to the DVLA, “If you are being contacted about fines or charges which you are not responsible for because someone else is using the registration number for your vehicle, your vehicle might have been cloned. Cloning involves copying the identity of a similar legitimate vehicle already on the road.
“Criminals find an exact make, model and colour of the car they have stolen, then use the same registration number on their stolen vehicle to make it look legal.
Antony Clark, Marketing Manager from Plates4less, said, “We have been inundated with calls from drivers. There has been a massive increase in number plate cloning over the last two years.
“We are getting between 50 and 100 calls every single week from car owners who want to get personalised number plates in a bid to disassociate themselves with the cloned registration mark.
“Cover plates are the cheapest solution that Plates4less offer, helping people to change their vehicle’s registration mark with a non-personalised combination.”
Dealing with repeated fines from different enforcement agencies is time consuming and frustrating for car owners and many are opting to change their plates as a cost-effective and quick way to deal with the problem.
Plates4less is a Swansea based centre devoted to helping clients from the UK and Northern Ireland buy and sell private plates.
Antony added, “There are a lot of unscrupulous companies and individuals when it comes to manufacturing and selling number plates and many of them operate on selling sites like Amazon, ebay and Facebook.
“They don’t check if the buyer has the legal right to have a set of plates made, which these days is a legal requirement designed to help law enforcement agencies. We have been working in this industry for over 25 years and our customers return to us because they know they can trust us to look after them, time and again.
“There’s no hard sell with us, we are here to solve problems and we will go above and beyond to help our customers, particularly after they have been targeted by criminals, which is an awful experience for anyone,” he added.