BBC has exposed what it claims is the ‘biggest car fraud in the world’ involving
vehicles stolen in Japan and eventually sold as nearly new in overseas right hand
drive (RHD) markets such as Britain.

The fraud hinges on the role of Dubai’s Free Trade Zone as a handling centre
for the trade. Cars are given new identities and adapted so that they can be
passed off as nearly new to the car trade in the destination market.

The fraud operators have targeted high margin off-roaders and performance cars
for the trade. Even more worryingly, crude workshops are now converting models
to LHD, as the UK market for RHD vehicles becomes saturated.

Some of these cars are being shipped to markets such as Russia, China, Burma
and Afghanistan.

It is estimated that some 100,000 cars currently on British roads were originally
stolen in Japan as part of this fraud and that a total of half a million stolen
Japanese cars have passed through Dubai.

Organised criminal groups, such as the Japanese Yakusa, are said to be heavily
involved in this fraudulent trade.

The scale of the fraud is expected to cause a furore in the consumer press.

Quentin Willson, a journalist at the centre of the investigation, told just-auto:
“This provides empirical proof that car manufacturers need to make cars more
theft resistant.

“I’d like to see secret identity markings on individual components with VIN
and manufacturer codes. If all cars had a high level of standard security then
this sort of fraudulent trade could not take place.”

The BBC television programme “The Biggest Car Fraud in the World”, will be
screened on Wednesday, 25th July on BBC1 at 7:30pm BST.

To view related research reports, please follow the links

world’s car manufacturers: A financial and operating review

regional report: Western Europe

country report: Japan