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Two thirds of all imported cars being clocked.

(Author: By Patrick Dewhurst)

A CAR MILEAGE checking firm yesterday released figures showing that two thirds of all imported cars had had their mileage fraudulently reduced, or 'clocked'.

According to Mileage Check, "Recent evidence shows that over 62 per cent of all cars imported into Cyprus have been clocked on arrival."

Over the past three years, the firm has collected data from 1,103 imported cars, and found that 684 or 62 per cent, had their odometers fraudulently turned back by unscrupulous dealers. In some cases, cars have been rolled back from 100,000 miles to an improbable 20,000.

Two methods are used to identify clocked cars. The first is a comparison of mileages on the export certificate and the clock. The second method requires a mechanic with specialist knowledge.

Mileage Check's survey used both methods to verify the mileage of 1,000 cars.

According to a Mileage Check spokesperson, "Cyprus is particularly bad compared with the rest of Europe. There are companies here (in Cyprus) that actually offer a clocking service to car resellers."

The Cyprus Mail confirmed this with one Limassol based car dealer, who offered to knock 40,000 miles of a fictitious Peugeot 306 for e1/450. Asked whether this would leave any trace on the car, the company's salesperson said: "No it will be fine. Just bring it in and we can take it back to any number you want. There's no need to book an appointment for this either."

The spokesperson explained that this practice is common knowledge in the local car industry, and that the fraudsters are keeping quiet to protect themselves. "Dealers display one of two thought patterns. Either they sell cars honestly and they are fed up with it, or they are involved in clocking."

She urges anybody buying an imported car to check the export certificate, and if the mileage looks low, then compare the price with a car with high mileage.

She also highlighted another illegal practice that is becoming widespread in Cyprus. "We've learned that a number ofAa luxury cars are being imported from the UK with finance outstanding." This scam involves approaching new car owners in the UK, who are falling behind on their finance payments.

"Owners are approached by the dealers, who offer cash for the car, then export it for sale in Cyprus. The owner then declares the car stolen. The finance companies are then unable to trace the vehicles, so they are written off."

There are currently plans underway to bring a tracking mechanism to the island, which will allow authorities to identify illegal luxury cars, even if the identification numbers have been removed.

Yesterday, reported a 33 percent slump in used car sales in September. With this increased pressure on dealerships, 'clocking' is likely to become more widespread unless authorities move to stop it.

Copyright Cyprus Mail 2009

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Oct 13, 2009
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