BMW for $13,000? S’poreans are buying cheap cloned cars in M’sia
M'sian dealer offers cheap resale cars with fake S'porean or M'sian licence plates, claims some of his customers are S'poreans
A man who has been running an illegal car cloning syndicate across the Causeway for the last five years assured us: There are no risks.
The Malaysian authorities will never find out and the chances of getting arrested are minimal, provided you buy the car from us.
What The New Paper found out when we recently went undercover was shocking.
The car cloning trade is a thriving one.
Singaporeans living and working in Malaysia are among those who buy these cars, which are scrapped vehicles from Singapore, two illegal dealers claimed.
Why are Singapore's scrapped vehicles prized by people buying them in Malaysia?
Well, for one, they are cheap.
Several websites and Facebook pages boast that you can own an eight- to 10-year-old luxury sedan - a BMW, Mercedes Benz or Audi - for between RM14,000 (S$4,600) and RM40,000.
Japanese cars are cheaper.
A Toyota Camry can cost RM7,800 whereas a Honda Jazz can cost as low as RM9,000. These sites also promote their cloning services, which include providing fake documents for the vehicle.
John, (not his real name) the cloned car dealer, said: "Where else can you get such a price. In Malaysia, (there's) no COE (Certificate of Entitlement). You can drive your cloned car until you die."
He is among the many cloned car dealers who operate out of states like Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Johor and Terengganu.
Asked if Singaporeans were among his clients, John said in a phone interview: "You are not the first (Singaporean) and you are certainly not the last Singaporean to buy clone cars. Singaporeans buy clones from me, especially if they have family in Malaysia or work here."
John did not reveal how many Singaporeans have bought cloned cars from him.
Yet, such services are being targeted by the Malaysian authorities.
In April, the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Road Transport Department (RTD) said it had confiscated 153 cloned vehicles, mostly from Terengganu and Kelantan, worth RM13 million.
RTD director-general Ismail Ahmad said the vehicles smuggled from neighbouring countries, including Singapore, were three times lower than the market value.
Mr Ismail was quoted in The Star: "The vehicles, previously declared as total losses in the country they were smuggled from, were sold for between RM20,000 and RM50,000 in Malaysia. This caused our government a loss of RM7 million in unpaid taxes."
It was reported then that the MACC would be calling up all 153 owners of the seized cars.
John explained that there are two types of clones.
A scrapped vehicle from Singapore can be made to assume the identity of a Malaysia-registered car or a Singapore-registered car.
John said: "If you want a Malaysian cloned (car), we will steal the identity of a same model car as the one you're buying from us.
"But we will make sure it comes from another (Malaysian) state. This way, the two cars don't meet on the road."
This service will cost an extra RM20,000, John said.
What is included in this package is a road tax sticker, new engine and chassis numbers, and the possibility of adding your name to the car grant.
One Facebook post by a rival syndicate also lists down the prices for each of the forging services required.
A Singapore clone is cheaper. John said his "people" will find a suitable licence plate number, on top of providing a Singapore road tax disc.
Said John: "I recommend to you a Singapore clone because our (Malaysian) police here have no way of checking who's the real owner of the car you're driving. They will only ask for your licence and passport or IC. "
Like other syndicates plying this illegal trade, John, too, claims he has "inside people" on both sides of the Causeway.
In May, two RTD staff were arrested on suspicion of issuing grants for cloned cars.
More than 10,000 blank road tax stickers and 1,500 car grants were smuggled out of the RTD in Negri Sembilan between November 2014 and March this year.
On the other hand, there are legitimate websites and Facebook pages selling Singapore scrap vehicles for spare parts use.
Under the MACC Act 2009 and Malaysian Road Transport Act 1987, those convicted of falsifying documents relating to car ownership, road tax, and licence plates face one year's jail, a fine of up to RM5,000, or both.
The penalties are the same for those convicted of driving or selling a cloned car.
Singaporeans buy clones from me, especially if they have family in Malaysia or work here.
- A cloned car dealer from Malaysia
In Malaysia, (there's) no COE. You can drive your cloned car until you die.
- A cloned car dealer from Malaysia
HOW CARS ARE CLONED
1 The syndicate acquires a scrapped car from Singapore, either legally or, in some cases, by smuggling a car out of Singapore.
2 Photos of the Singapore cars and their prices are uploaded on a Facebook page.
3 The syndicate leaves contact numbers for clients to call.
4 If a deal is struck, the syndicate will get fake Malaysia-registered or Singapore-registered plates and documentation for the cloned car. The buyer first has to make a cash deposit.
5 For a Malaysia-cloned car, the process takes five days. The syndicate will study its database for a suitable clone. It takes three days to stamp new engine and chassis numbers on the cloned car. Another two days are required to forge a Malaysian road tax sticker and car grant documents.
6 A Singapore-cloned car is cheaper and quicker to acquire. Syndicates will find a match with an existing car in Singapore before duplicating its licence plate numbers. It will also provide a forged road tax disc.
7 Collection of the car is done at discreet carparks in Malaysia.