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CCR2 Asset and Motor Finance

Motor finance theft and fraud investigation

How to improve recoveries from missing vehicles? Rely on specialist knowledge

Dave Wood Fraud consultant, Legate Group dave.wood

Established in 2005 as a commercial investigation company, we specialise in motor finance theft and fraud with UK and international coverage. As police resources and expertise have reduced in recent years, the requirement for commercial theft and fraud services in the motor finance sector are more relevant now than ever. In January 2017, the City of London Police

warned of an increase in organised crime groups from overseas targeting UK lenders. The number of vehicles being removed permanently from the UK has increased substantially over the last two to three years. In the last 12 months, we have recovered

over £3m of vehicles within the motor and asset finance sectors. However, do not be fooled into thinking that all these vehicles had been taken overseas. They were not; most of them recovered last year were found in the UK, from hirers that had defaulted on finance agreements or third parties, mixed with cases that involved material falsehoods in the credit application process. An effective investigation resource can

complement and improve on lenders collection and repossession strategies, helping reduce losses arising by lost or stolen assets. Notwithstanding Financial Conduct

Authority (FCA) protocols, what is often seen is default cases following a lengthy internal process, without identifying primary theft and fraud indicators, making the recovery of assets less achievable without specialist intervention. For example, a first payment default is a classic fraud indicator, yet these often only filter through to investigations following a traditional collections and repossession strategy.


Goods Court Order, the foundations for a theft referral can start to be constructed. If Section 90 is not applicable, which is

An effective investigation resource can complement and improve on lenders collection and repossession strategies, helping to reduce losses arising from lost or stolen assets

Time is of the essence, not least because

the evidential chain becomes weaker, but the depreciation of the asset can be considerable with some motor-industry sources suggesting depreciation 3% to 5% per quarter on used vehicles. The average depreciation for new vehicles in the first year is greater.

Default or theft? So, when does a default case become theft? Clearly where Section 90 of the Consumer Credit Act applies, a hirer would have a civil right to retain the property. On the other hand, if Section 90 is not applicable or the lender has an unenforced Return of

the bulk of the cases referred to us for recovery, an investigator will conduct a thorough case review and investigation of the case. In many of those case instructions, vehicles are found and recovered utilising specialist skills without police involvement. The initial risk assessment conducted on a case can uncover potential health and safety risks to field operatives or else a hirer’s pre-existing convictions. Where evidence exists to demonstrate

that the elements of theft are present, an investigator will, with consent of the lender, report to the police and submit a fully compliant evidence pack. Success in resolving cases of this nature requires specialist knowledge and experience, which enables investigators to present a lender’s perspective to the police, whilst dealing with any objections from them. The overriding message is for lenders to

speed up the recovery process where possible without breaching FCA protocols, especially where hirers are not communicating or cooperating. Outsourcing to theft and fraud investigators

can provide lenders and its staff with access to specialist knowledge, skills, and expertise that can lawfully investigate, locate and recover missing vehicles and assets. Importantly, it will free up staff time from

preparing statements and reporting to the police, increase revenue from stolen and recovered assets both from the UK and overseas, and ultimately reduce losses from bad debt, theft and fraud. CCR2

February 2019

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