The Road Transport Department (JPJ) has said that the act of falsifying the registration of cars smuggled into Malaysia, commonly referred to as cloned cars, is not only done secretly without the knowledge of the original owners, but also by those who conspired with syndicates that offered them compensation to be involved in the illegal act.

In a report by Sinar Harian, the director of JPJ Selangor, Nazli Md Taib, said that low prices spur the demand for cloned cars – mostly luxury vehicles – and that from 2016 to March this year, a total of 314 cloned vehicles have been seized.

A cloned vehicle is defined as any motor vehicle used on the road that resembles a Malaysian-registered vehicle, using identical number plates taken from a similar legitimately-registered model. According to Nazli, there are a few categories of cloned vehicles, including those that are not registered and brought in through ports or borders either from Thailand or Singapore.

“For example, in the case of a cloned Toyota Vellfire in white, the syndicate will clone the vehicle using an existing Toyota Vellfire [of the same colour] registered in the country. The cloned vehicle would then be used in Kedah or states where it is unlikely that the owner of the legitimately registered vehicle will go to the states involved to avoid it being detected,” said Nazli.

“This cloned car will use either a falsified road tax or a copy of the original vehicle road tax. If the syndicate takes someone else’s registration number and uses it on a cloned car, this is a forgery. Most cases like these are brought up to us when the original owner says he received a summon in a place he never went to. As such, we will send the information to the state concerned for further action,” he continued.

While this category of cloned cars involves falsifying a vehicle registration without the knowledge of the original owner, Nazli said there are those who conspired with syndicates to perform the illegal act. As an example, he said there was a case where a syndicate approached a Volkswagen owner and offered to pay his monthly car instalment in exchange for duplicating the vehicle’s registration.

“The owner, influenced by money, would agree to the terms. This is a case of the owner agreeing. The suspect would then clone several of such cars based on the agreement between the owner and the syndicate,” Nazli explained.

The syndicate would then bring in the cloned car using the same registration number as the original car. The syndicate and the original vehicle owner would also agree on certain terms, including forbidding the latter to go to the state where the cloned car was sold in,” he added.

Nazli goes on to say that based on the agreement with by the syndicate, the original vehicle owner will go to the department to apply for a new road tax disc on the pretense of the current one being damaged or missing. “Here, the original vehicle owner that conspired with the syndicate will obtain a new road tax disc and hand it over to the syndicate to be used on the cloned car,” he said.

Nazli noted that cloned vehicles that are “registered” this way were worth more than those with fake registrations, adding that syndicates were also able to use advanced technologies to produce fake road tax discs that appeared genuine.

The department picked up on this activity when the original vehicle owner came to apply for a new road tax again for the third time using the same excuses. There have also been cases where a syndicate “revived” the registration of vehicles that have been declared a total lost after being involved in a serious accident.

“These acts make it difficult for the public to determine if a car has been registered legally or cloned,” Nazli commented, adding that it can be very difficult to differentiate a forged road tax disc from an original, requiring the department to send samples to Percetakan Nasional for validation. He goes on to say that if a luxury vehicle is sold for as low as RM20,000, there’s certainly something amiss with the vehicle, but there are still those who buy it.