Attack Of The Clones

Wed 21st Nov 2018

The instances of cars being cloned and used to escape congestion charge fines is on the rise according to figures released by Transport for London (TfL).

There were 1,652 examples of fines being withdrawn upon appeal after owners proved that they had been a victim of car cloning, a figure up more than 50 per cent on 2016.

The data, which has been revealed by car website, Honest John, shows that the number for the first half of 2018 has risen by a third and though TfL will cancel the fines, the onus is on the real owner of a number plate to prove that they were not using their car and not eligible for a fine.

“Prior to issuing the PCN we manually verify that the image of the vehicle observed in the zone matches the vehicle information provided by the DVLA,” said a spokesperson from TfL.

“Only when there is a match is a penalty issued. At the point of issuing the penalty we would not know if a vehicle had been cloned.

“On receipt of the penalty a motorist can follow the representations and appeals procedure and challenge a PCN. If we receive a representation stating a vehicle has been cloned we request evidence to confirm this.”

Honest John’s website advises a number of ways you might prove that it wasn’t your car in the congestion zone, including installing a dash cam to prove your car was elsewhere at the time of the incident, or even utilising a GPS tracker.

But Honest John editor, Daniel Powell, believes that many more cars are being cloned, with no proof available to appeal the fine: “On the grounds that it is down to the car owner to prove they are innocent, it would be safe to assume that the true figure for car cloning in London is significantly higher as many drivers will be unable supply the evidence TfL requires to cancel the PCN.

“For those involved it can be a very frightening and stressful experience, because they will be threatened with crippling fines and court action if they cannot provide comprehensive proof that they were not on the capital’s roads.

“It also raises an important question – how many drivers simply pay the fine to avoid the stress?”