The gang was found to have manipulated the odometers on 198 vehicles

Following a story first reported in the Leader two months ago, Operation ‘Masina’, has resulted in the arrest of three people with charges made to a further twelve as agents from the Guardia Civil broke up a locally based organisation that allegedly marketed used vehicles with tampered odometers.

In the police operation speedometers were found to have been ‘clocked’ on about 200 cars, some of which had seen their mileages reduced by 246,000 kilometres prior to their sale with forged documents. Of the 200 vehicles the Guardia estimated that 122 of the buyers since 2011 were retired expatriates.

The case dates back to last January, when the Civil Guard first detected a possible fraud involving the purchase of one such a vehicle in Torrevieja.

After initial investigations it was found that vehicles were being delivered, along with their forged vehicle servicing booklets showing a false maintenance history, usually indicating that servicing had been carried out at much lower mileages and shorter intervals. A police spokesman said that the failure to meet the maintenance intervals recommended by the manufacturer would have meant that there was a "major risk" of vehicle failure which could have been extremely "dangerous2 to anyone in the vehicle at the time.

Searches were subsequently carried out in six locations, including two homes in Torrevieja and Quesada, and two industrial buildings in Almoradi which were fully equipped to repair and paint the vehicles, with their mechanics working "behind closed doors.”

During the searches numerous documents were also found which showed the actual mileages of the vehicles, as well as numerous Odometers that had been removed from their vehicles, on which were recorded substantially lower mileages. Officers impounded a total of 151 vehicles on which the odometers had been manipulated.

After the vehicles were first purchased by the group they were moved to the warehouses in Almoradi where the mileages were changed before many of them received a new coat of paint, changing the original color in order to “make them more appealing in an attempt to disguise their actual condition." The vehicles were then leased to rental companies or sold to individuals, many of them locally based on the Orihuela Costa or in Torrevieja.

After analyzing the information accumulated from seized reports the gang was found to have manipulated the odometers on 198 vehicles, ‘clocking’ them back by an average of more than 140,000 kilometers, and in several cases well over 200,000.

Among those arrested are a Romanian father and son identified as IC and CC, 58 and 36 years of age respectively, and a man of Spanish nationality who served as a the manager on the used car lot premises. He was identified as CMGR aged 50.

The operation is still ongoing and the used car lot at the centre of the investigation still remains closed and sealed off by the Guardia Civil.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/44827/

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