Police have swooped on organised crime gangs suspected of an international car leasing scam in a series of dawn raids.
More than 100 officers from Cheshire Constabulary and Greater Manchester Police targeted suspected criminals across Oldham, Levenshulme and Stockport, believed to be involved in the high-value car theft ring.
Officers targeted eight properties and arrested five men aged between 28 and 58-years-old.
The sting follows a lengthy and complex investigation by Cheshire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit, looking into the activities of a group thought to be fraudulently leasing high value cars, which are then transported overseas.
Detective Sergeant Brian Faint, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Organised crime groups bring misery and pain to our communities.
“Fraud is not a victimless crime and today’s operation was a great success. It reinforces our commitment to targeting those who believe they can commit these offences and get away with it.
“We will continue to track down anyone believed to be involved in these offences to ensure we protect our communities and local businesses.”
The raids come amid increasing concerns in the UK fleet industry about criminals targeting leasing companies to fraudulently obtain high-performance vehicles.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) recently warned that high-end quality vehicles were being rented from car leasing companies using fraudulent identification.
Leasing the vehicle allows the criminal group time to move the motor vehicle out of the UK before anyone becomes aware of the theft. A proportion of the cars end up in countries such as Cyprus, Spain and Poland.
Earlier this year, Barry Shorto, head of industry relations at Cap HPI, told Fleet News: “Once these vehicles have been leased, the criminals have no intention of bringing them back. Instead, they are shipped abroad where the index plates are changed and bodywork repainted.
“The best action UK leasing companies can take to minimise risk of vehicle theft is to be ultra-diligent when checking customer authenticity and to look at all methods of verifying identification. The fitting of appropriate tracking devices in all vehicles will also minimise the risk of theft.”