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The Insurance Crime Bureau (ICB) recently issued a vehicle recall scam alert for owners of high value cars. Auto & General Insurance urges motorists to be vigilant.


“Criminals execute a recall scam by contacting, emailing or texting unsuspecting vehicle owners and posing as officials representing a car manufacturer – convincing the owners that their vehicle requires critically urgent safety recall work or special service work to be carried out at a dealerships,” says Ricardo Coetzee, Head of Auto & General Insurance

Garth de Klerk, CEO of the ICB, says that initial contact is normally made telephonically, where a criminal posing as an official informs victims that their vehicle is being recalled. 

“This is often followed up with a spoof email, with criminals going to great lengths to make their communication seem official. They convince vehicle owners that they shouldn’t drive their vehicle under any circumstances and make arrangements to collect it – most often using a tow truck,” says de Klerk.

A couple of days later, the owner would typically phone the dealership for an update, only to discover that the vehicle has in fact been stolen.

These crimes, where millions have been lost, are likely driven by organised criminal syndicates. The end market of these syndicates varies but often, high-end vehicles, taken across the border, or shipped to other countries, and sold there. 

De Klerk says that it’s surprisingly easy for criminals to get profiling details of an individual and the car they drive, due to people often sharing too much information through social media platforms and telephonically – mostly through fake “market research calls”. 

Motorists should take heed of the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Limit the amount of personal information you share on social media and telephonically. Criminals use this to build a detailed profile of their victims.
  • Be vigilant and maintain a healthy sense of scepticism when talking to strangers. Make every effort to verify that they are indeed who they say they are, and that they are an employee of the company they claim to represent.
  • Check with the manufacturer and/or dealership directly to verify that the recall is legitimate. Don’t trust contact details provided by the person who called you.
  • Report any suspicious calls to the authorities, the manufacturer and/or the dealership.

“Always be alert, don’t trust too easily and do your homework, especially when large amounts of money or valuable possessions are concerned,” Coetzee concludes. DM


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