Car criminals turn to eBay

Criminals in Greater Manchester are using eBay to sell stolen and cloned cars.

A BBC investigation has uncovered at least three accounts that were switching details with legitimate cars.

Car cloning is often used as a method to sell stolen cars. The vehicle is given the identity of another, similar legitimate car, including licence plates, chassis numbers and accompanying documentation. It means even if the buyer runs an online background check, the details will appear correct.

An eBay spokesman told the BBC that the company was yet to be contacted by Greater Manchester Police.

The spokesperson said, ‘Cash on collection is very unusual and we would ask buyers to always pay via the platform when purchasing.’

Among the victims was a retired police officer Graham Murray who lost £17,000 buying a stolen Mercedes from a seller in Rochdale.

Another victim, Gordon Alexander, from Forfar in Tayside, bought a cloned BMW for £18,300 in January while a reporter from BBC Radio Manchester was able to win an auction for a cloned Vauxhall Mokka for £9,600 from one of the suspicious accounts. A car of the same make and model with the same registration plate was then discovered up for sale at a Vauxhall garage in Wales.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson told the BBC, ‘When we receive a report of any incident, we assess the immediate threat, harm and risk to the public and allocate officers and resources accordingly. We do this with full consideration of all the competing demands that we may be facing at that particular time and a decision is then made on how to respond. We are currently reviewing the decision made in this case.’