KUALA LUMPUR - For six months, a syndicate has been luring doe-eyed customers to buy cloned luxury cars online at a price three times lower than the market value.
However, the syndicate was busted after the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Road Transport Department (JPJ) seized 153 such vehicles valued at RM13mil at various spots in Terengganu this month.
Cloned vehicles are vehicles smuggled in from other countries which have had their documents, chassis and engine numbers forged.
JPJ director-general Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad said the vehicles were smuggled from neighbouring countries, including Singapore, adding that buyers were lured by the price, which could be three times lower than the market value.
"The vehicles, previously declared as total losses in the country they were smuggled from, were sold for between RM20,000 and RM50,000 (S$7447 and S$18617) in Malaysia. This caused our government a loss of RM 7 million in unpaid taxes," he said, adding that the vehicles were also using fake road tax.
The syndicate, said Ismail, was even "bold" enough to advertise the vehicles online.
Ismail urged owners of cloned vehicles to come forward and surrender their vehicles - either to JPJ or MACC.
"Owning these vehicles is against the law and dangerous because it is not covered by insurance.
"Under the Road Transport Act, we will ask for owners of seized cars to relinquish their ownership and put the vehicles up for auction," he said.
JPJ, said Ismail, was working on integrating data from insurance companies into its system to help in cracking down against cloned cars.
The new system is expected to be implemented on June 1.
Recently, three people in their 20s were arrested in the Klang Valley for allegedly acting as middlemen between the buyers and the syndicate.
They have been remanded to help in investigations.
MACC intelligence division director Datuk Azam Baki said those found involved in the syndicate and possessing the cloned cars would be investigated under Section 18 of the MACC Act 2009.
"Under the MACC Act, the suspect can be jailed not less than 20 years and subject to paying a penalty fee.
"They can also be investigated under the Penal Code for possessing illegal documents," he said.