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Taken for a ride by clone car.

MARKET trader Ran Singh Shergill was stunned when police told him his Escort van was a stolen vehicle.

He had bought the van in good faith for pounds 3,300 six months previously and had absolutely no reason to suspect a problem.

"I possessed all the paperwork and had even had a credit check done," says the 29-year-old from Sutton Coldfield.

In fact, the van was a `clone' - it had been stolen and given the identity of another vehicle.

Although the van was confiscated, Ran was given pounds 2,900 compensation by Equifax, the firm that carried out the credit check. He was lucky.

Often, duped buyers end up forfeiting the car and the cash they paid for it.

As three out of every ten second-hand cars on sale are either stolen, write-offs or have outstanding HP payments, you need to be careful.

So, here's how to make sure you don't get taken for a ride:

lEstablish the condition of the car and the identity of its legal owner.

lGet a mechanic to inspect it before you buy and check whether the condition of the vehicle is consistent with the mileage.

lNever buy a car that doesn't have a vehicle registration document (V5).

lAnd check the Vehicle Identification Number. If the VIN plate looks like it has been tampered with, the car could be stolen.

lCheck the engine number against the registration document. If the number plates look new or recently removed, beware.

lIf you are buying privately, arrange a daytime meeting at the seller's home and satisfy yourself that they live there.

lBe on your guard if the owner doesn't have the vehicle registration document and MoT certificate, and isn't the registered keeper.

lHold the car documents up to the light - forgeries usually don't have the watermark.

lAsk to see the insurance policy.

EQUIFAX-HPI can give you the detailed history of more than 50 million vehicles on its database.

For pounds 31, the firm can tell you whether the car has been stolen or written off, has money owing on it and if the seller is the legal owner.

Details on 01722 422 422.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Keenan, Andrew
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 21, 1999
Words:355
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