GANGS are cloning number plates and flogging them to other criminals for £100 a pair in a massive fuel, tax and insurance dodge.
Fraudsters match punters’ cars with taxed motors of the same model and colour that are being sold on eBay and in Auto Trader.
They copy the plates using a £1,000 hi-tech printing machine.
And their dodgy clients then drive around without paying tax and insurance.
Some even fill up at petrol stations and flee without paying, leaving the legitimate owner of the number plate to face awkward questions from police.
The crafty con has left hundreds of drivers across the UK unaware they have an illegal twin car.
Unsuspecting victims are being slapped with hefty fines for speeding and parking – and even face criminal charges.
The same number plate is sometimes cloned on up to five cars – but only one of them will be insured and taxed.
Our investigators were taken into a garage in the north-west of England where the illegal plates are made.
Lifting the lid on the racket, one of the conmen told us: “We struggled to find a shop or garage that would sell us number plates without a log book because it’s now against the law.
“So we thought f**k it, it’s not against the law to buy your own machine.
“The machine cost a grand and we made that back in the first few weeks. A full tank of fuel in my motor is £120.
“I stick a cloned number plate on before driving into the garage and helping myself to fuel.
“I then drive off, remove the plate and bin it.”
Asked where he finds the number plates to copy, he said: “Easy, we get on eBay or Auto Trader and search for the same car in the same colour, look for one with a pic with the number plate showing and copy it.
“You can even search for one in your local area so it doesn’t look on top (dodgy) when you are driving it about.
“You don’t want to be driving a car registered in Glasgow around London – it looks bang on top.”
He added: “Some people have got wise and now hide the number plate in the pictures but there are always a load that don’t.
“The insurance scam is foolproof, you just need the same motor in the same colour as a few of your pals.
“You get one all fully legal, insured, taxed and MOT’d then use the number plate of that one on the others.
“We use one of the lads who blows up clean on a PNC (police national computer check).
“That means he doesn’t show as having a criminal record, so the fuzz don’t pull you over.”
He revealed: “We make a right few quid just selling the plates to people doing the petrol or insurance scam.”
When asked how much the racket costs honest motorists, he said: “Ask someone who gives a f**k.”
The AA said 10,000 cars with cloned number plates are on the roads in Britain.
It estimated one in 250 cars driving into the congestion zone in London had cloned plates, allowing drivers to escape the £10 charge.
Drivers with cloned plates also get away with offences such as speeding or going through red lights, knowing that someone else will face fines and penalty points.
Petrol stations lost a staggering £22.5million through motorists driving off without paying last year – and most of them had cloned plates, according to the British Oil Security Syndicate.
So make sure you be careful who you buy your number plate of, we at Beef Registrations are a very safe way of buying a registration plate with no problems.