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Vehicle export insurance scam targeting B.C. residents

The latest illegal scheme lures targets into purchasing luxury vehicles.
The illegal car export business has grown significantly in recent years, according to a local dealership owner.

Exporting cars illegally is nothing new, but the Richmond News has recently uncovered yet another example of a scam that is luring Richmondites looking for “a quick buck.”

A recent ad on a couple of Chinese-language websites, including Vansky and Little Red Book (similar to Craigslist or Kijiji), asks people if they have a good credit score and “want to make a quick buck,” noting that the scheme is “totally legit.”

After replying to the ad, a Richmond News reporter learned the “quick buck” would be made by committing insurance fraud.

The man who responded to our inquiry, Fred (not his real name), told the reporter all he had to do was go to a dealership, put a down payment on a car and secure short-term financing. Money for the down payment and first three months of financing would be supplied in cash by Fred.

While at the dealership, the reporter was told to also purchase new car insurance.

Once in possession of the car, the reporter was to drive it directly to a “garage,” where any tracking device would be removed. The vehicle would then be shipped to Asia, where it would sell for three times the price it was bought for in Richmond.

A few months later, the reporter would make an ICBC claim, reporting his vehicle stolen.

“By then, they’d never find it. It would be sold in China,” Fred said (in translation).

With no proof that the vehicle wasn’t stolen, ICBC would be required to pay the remainder of the financing. And with “new car insurance,” the payout would not be subject to depreciation.

When asked if the process was legal, the reporter was told “it’s a legal grey area.”

Meanwhile, the reporter would be paid $5,000-$10,000, depending on his credit score and the model of car he was able to purchase. Aside from the well-known luxury brands, heavy-duty vehicles, such as the Dodge Ram series, are in high demand in Asia, explained Fred.

The Richmond News reached out to ICBC for comment on the scam but was told it’s a criminal matter and inquiries should be made to the police.

The Richmond RCMP, however, said they were unable to provide any information at this time.

Macgyver Tse, account manager at King’s Auto Lease Richmond, said he hadn’t heard of this particular scam but was aware of similar ones, as people have been trying to work around export car regulations for years.

“Car export can be a quick cash grab,” Tse said, “Like, one of the most popular Mercedes Benz models, G63, once you get your hands on one, it’s a guaranteed $50,000 or more in profit if you export. And that is through legitimate means.”

Tse said most dealerships have agreements with the manufacturer to prevent buyers from buying vehicles and immediately exporting them.

In fact, when a customer who’s leasing a vehicle refuses to sign a no-export agreement, the dealership can install a tracker on the car and keep one of the car keys (the new car owner is provided with two) for over a year to ensure the car isn’t exported, he explained.

Dealerships are responsible for retaining their inventories for the community to maintain trust between customers and manufacturers, Tse added.

Regardless, the illegal car export business has grown significantly in recent years, while the local car market has been at an all-time low.

Meanwhile, the “totally legit,” “quick buck” ads continue to run on social media platforms.