Warning over bike theft scam

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Thieves are trying to trick victims out of important details in an email scam before stealing their motorcycles, an expert has warned.

The details are later used by the thief to help him make a quick sale of the stolen motorcycle.

Victims are chosen through classified ads offering their bike for sale.

Once the thief has found the bike he wants, he emails the seller asking for personal information and promising to send a deposit in return.

But the deposit will never arrive, according to Ken German, who sits on the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group (MCRG). Instead the thief will simply steal the bike from the seller’s home address and use the details to pretend to be the legitimate owner, German said.

A sample of the alleged scam email, seen by MCN, read: “Hello, I’m very interested in your Honda that you have for sale. I have to tell you that I’m currently out of town with some major business problems so I can come for collection only in about two weeks.

“That’s why I want to make a deposit of £900 to reserve the bike. From my experience I know that certain listings are associated with fraudulent activity.

“As a precaution please send copies of the following: driving licence; proof that the item listed is in your possession (receipt, bill of sale). As soon as I will receive these documents, I will send you the deposit using MoneyGram or Paypal. My fax number is…”

German, an ex-Metropolitan Police stolen vehicle squad officer, said: “Once you’ve sent the details he’ll probably nick the bike. He’d have all the details he’d need to get rid of it, abroad or wherever.

“All he wants is your details to commit fraud by pretending to be you,” he added.

German said this or very similar scams were “rife”.

For more on this, get next week’s MCN, on sale May 21, 2008.

Steve Farrell

By Steve Farrell