JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 26-year-old man driving his wife in a flashy BMW ended up being nabbed for their alleged links to a cloned car syndicate.
The couple were on their way to deliver the BMW to a buyer here on Thursday night, said Road Transport Department (JPJ) director-general Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad.
He said the BMW was brought into the country from Singapore before it was given a registration and chassis number of another car that had been reported as total loss.
The couple, he said, were part of a local syndicate which worked with their Singaporean counterparts to bring in such vehicles into Malaysia.
The cars that were brought in are usually those with the Singaporean Certificate of Entitlement about to expire and were bought for between S$3,000 and S$5,000.
"The vehicles are then sold to clients at prices ranging from RM20,000 (S$6,711) to RM30,000 depending on models like BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Honda or Toyota," he said after handing out appreciation awards to 21 south zone JPJ officers here yesterday.
Despite the couple's claims that they were "new" to the business, he said police believed that they had been operating for some time and had sold at least 20 of such vehicles.
They were arrested during a joint operation by the police, Customs Department and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Ismail said the couple had been handed to the Customs Department before being charged in court later.
Since the launch of the operation against cloned vehicles in April last year, the department had seized 917 cloned cars and about 20 cases had ended up in court, mostly against those who bought the clone cars.
He said purchasing and dealing in cloned cars was a violation of the laws as it meant that the offenders had evaded tax when they bought vehicles from a foreign country and used fake registration numbers.
Ismail also said that a special elite team would be set up within JPJ, consisting of 25 chosen personnel in its first batch, to undergo extreme fitness and mental training and weapon usage to deal with tough cases.