Vehicle information provider HPI helped Greater Manchester Police (GMP) smash a highly organised criminal gang who stole vehicles to order and sold them on to unsuspecting buyers.
The police operation resulted in two arrests and the recovery of stolen vehicles worth more than £570,000.
The gang used ‘cloned' identities to make stolen vehicles look legitimate before selling them on.
Car cloning is the vehicle equivalent of identity fraud - criminals steal a car and give it a new identity copied from a similar vehicle already on the road.
GMP discovered that the gang would steal cars and clone them to make them look legitimate.
The cars were given new number plates and the registration number was used to list the vehicles for sale.
The gang also used stolen V5 documents, stolen road tax discs, fraudulent MOT certificates and receipts and dodgy vehicle history check documents.
They also used the personal details of innocent people to help create a fake history for the vehicles, making the scam very hard to spot.
Kristian Welch, consumer director for HPI, said: "This gang was using every trick in the book to dupe innocent used car buyers, but HPI joined forces with Greater Manchester Police and a number of other industry names to catch the criminals red-handed.
“This case highlights the risks consumers face. Many buyers don't realise that if they buy a clone they stand to lose the car and their money, as a stolen vehicle will be returned to its rightful owner.”