Theft and Fraud Investigation for the Motor and Asset Finance Sectors

The intelligent choice

Commercial investigation specialising in motor finance theft and fraud.

Quality is Legate’s byword and it is something upon which we will not compromise.

It is at the core of everything we do; from initial client contact and the way in which we conduct our enquiries, through to the quality of reports that we present to our customers.

About Us

What has changed?

It’s not so long ago that making gain from vehicle crime, was a high risk activity and would involve traditional theft of a motor car or burglary to steal car keys from the home owner. Why take such risks when a finance company will buy a vehicle for you and give you the keys?

 
 

Services

From Motor Finance Theft and Fraud to Financial Intelligence, Legate have an enviable reputation for delivering excellent results in the UK, with an international reach via trusted business partners.

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Compliance

Compliance with the data protection legislation is vital for the Legate’s continued operation and success.

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Blog

Impact on vehicle finance theft and fraud in the current economic climate

Introduction Anecdotally, there is; maybe more of an assumption than a fact, a view that finance agreement related crimes are likely to rise in the current economic climate. The recently appointed chief inspector of constabulary Andy Cooke may well concur saying “The impact of poverty and the impact of lack of opportunity for people, does lead to an increase in crime.

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Are criminals taking advantage of outmoded police practices?

Here at Legate we are becoming increasingly busy supporting our clients who contact us as a last resort to help them find their missing vehicles. Having investigators with a range of skill sets honed out having worked extensively in either Insurance, the banking industry or police, we are able to recover most vehicles without requiring police assistance. Where we do recourse to reporting vehicles stolen by theft or because of fraud, we can and do ensure that vehicles are recorded as stolen and significantly, marked as such on the Police National Computer.

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The Fraud Funnel

At Legate, we are seeing increasing evidence of fraud, which forms the key element to acquiring a vehicle dishonestly. Although Asset conversion fraud is more common; this is where either no or minimal repayments are made on the agreement before it is sold on, we are seeing a sharp increase in identity fraud. So not only do we have the Lender as a victim, but the person whose identity has been stolen as well. The reporting and investigation is compounded by the fact that you have the theft of a vehicle facilitated by fraud on the one hand and an identity theft on the other.

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Watch this empty car parking space; Self-Driving cars that repossess themselves!

Recent news from the US suggests Ford have submitted a patent to develop a self-driving car, which amongst other things will repossess itself when drivers fail to make a payment. The system that would allow future autonomous cars to drive themselves back to a showroom if the owner fails to meet the terms of their lease or loan! Before then, the vehicle would be capable of making life increasingly unpleasant for the driver. The repossession procedure would begin with the owner being sent a warning message via their car‚Äôs entertainment system screen. The¬†car would then be able to disable features such as its GPS navigation system, its speakers and the air conditioning. The aim being be to create a certain level of discomfort for the driver. This would also include overriding the vehicle‚Äôs in car entertainment system. One wonders on the choice of music that could be selected to ensure the vehicle was returned! Does this spell the end for traditional investigation and vehicle repossession? It is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future with Ford commenting that it was a standard patent¬†application to protect future opportunities with no plans¬†in the pipeline to development such functionality. In the meantime, you can be assured that Legate Group will continue to ‚Äúdeliver‚ÄĚ for our clients by minimising losses through expeditious vehicle location investigation and recovery. If you want to read the full article ‚ÄúSelf-Driving Ford could repossess itself if owner misses a payment‚ÄĚ, it was published in the Times on 01/03/23.

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Unveiling the Controversy: Motor Vehicle Finance Lenders and Discretionary Interest Rates

In recent times, a contentious issue has emerged in the realm of motor vehicle financing, centering around the application of discretionary interest rates by lenders to unknowing consumers. This controversy has sparked debates regarding transparency, fairness, and consumer rights. Let’s delve into the heart of the matter and explore why it’s causing such a stir. What Are Discretionary Interest Rates? Before diving into the controversy, it’s crucial to understand what discretionary interest rates entail. Unlike fixed interest rates or rates tied to market benchmarks, discretionary interest rates are determined by lenders based on individual borrower profiles. These rates are influenced by factors such as credit scores, income levels, employment history, and debt-to-income ratios. The Controversy Unveiled: The controversy surrounding motor vehicle finance lenders applying discretionary interest rates to unknowing consumers stems from several key issues: Lack of Transparency: Critics argue that many lenders fail to adequately disclose the use of discretionary interest rates to consumers. As a result, borrowers may be unaware of how their interest rates are determined and whether they’re receiving fair terms.   Potential for Discrimination: There are concerns that discretionary interest rates could lead to discrimination against certain demographic groups, such as minorities or low-income individuals. Without clear guidelines and oversight, lenders may unfairly penalize these groups with higher interest rates.   Predatory Practices: Some critics allege that certain lenders exploit the ambiguity surrounding discretionary interest rates to engage in predatory lending practices. This may include charging excessively high interest rates or imposing hidden fees and penalties, trapping borrowers in cycles of debt.   Impact on Affordability: The use of discretionary interest rates can significantly impact the affordability of motor vehicle financing for consumers. Borrowers with lower credit scores or less favourable financial profiles may face substantially higher interest rates, making vehicle ownership more costly and potentially unattainable. Addressing the Concerns: To address the controversy surrounding discretionary interest rates in motor vehicle financing, several measures can be taken: Enhanced Transparency: Lenders should be required to provide clear and comprehensive information to consumers regarding the use of discretionary interest rates, including how they are calculated and the factors considered in determining rates.   Regulation and Oversight: Government agencies and regulatory bodies can play a vital role in overseeing the motor vehicle finance industry and ensuring compliance with fair lending practices. This includes monitoring for discriminatory practices and enforcing transparency requirements.   Consumer Education: Empowering consumers with knowledge about their rights and options when it comes to motor vehicle financing is essential. Education campaigns and resources can help individuals make informed decisions and advocate for fair treatment from lenders.   Advocacy and Reform: Consumer advocacy groups and organizations can champion reforms to address the underlying issues contributing to the controversy surrounding discretionary interest rates. This may involve advocating for legislation to strengthen consumer protections and promote fairness in lending practices. Conclusion: The controversy surrounding motor vehicle finance lenders applying discretionary interest rates to unknowing consumers raises important questions about transparency, fairness, and consumer rights. By addressing concerns related to transparency, potential discrimination, predatory practices, and affordability, stakeholders can work towards ensuring a more equitable and transparent motor vehicle financing landscape for all consumers.    

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How the cost of living crisis could impact vehicle finance theft and fraud

Rob King, Police Liaison and Business Development Manager at Legate Group Limited looks at finance agreement related crimes and the likelihood of them rising in the current economic climate.

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Success Stories

Multi-vehicle investigation; 10 Teslas located and recovered.

Back in May, BVLRA put out one of their fraud¬†RISC¬†alert messages concerning an innocent company who had unwittingly become the victim of an identity fraud. Fraudsters used their details to deceive several¬†finance and leasing companies into financing vehicles; some of these were Legate‚Äôs clients. This was a complex and multi-faceted investigation resulting in the discovery ¬†of 10 missing Tesla¬†vehicles. In a coordinated recovery operation working closely with our collection partners¬†Wrights Recoveries UK¬†, we were able to repossess the Teslas from various locations across the UK. Despite the challenges posed by a multiple vehicle case such as this, it culminated in a great result for our clients. A special thanks to Wrights for resourcing and effectively meeting the logistical challenges involved at such¬†short notice.  

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A bit of heavy lifting by Legate!

Its not just cars, vans and lorries our clients ask us to find, its plant and agricultural vehicles too! Plant items are notoriously difficult to find and made more challenging by the absence of telematics! After a bit of digging around we managed to locate and recover this JCB from the middle of a field. Working closely with the¬† National Construction & Agricultural Theft team [NCAT] who facilitated on site police support, we were able to recover the asset swiftly. Not forgetting J & G Euro who actually did the heavy lifting and smoothly removed the excavator from the site. A great example of what can be achieved with a combined commercial and law enforcement partnership approach.  

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Scania Truck tracked down in Greece

This Scania tractor unit and trailer disappeared from the Northwest back in November. Applying a bit of lateral thinking, joining the dots and good old fashioned, no frills, no telematics detective work, we were able to track it down to a haulage depot in central Greece. Great collaborative working and engagement with all concerned, not least our agent in Greece. A bit of poetic justice inspired the following few lines; “In Greece,¬†this Scania¬†found its rest,¬† A land afar, a foreign nest. Though miles apart, in distant lands, It stood, reclaimed now, by rightful hands.¬† Oh, Scania lorry, now at ease,¬† Your travels end, your troubles cease. You’ve found your home in Wigan now, Your final resting place at peace.”¬†

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After being stolen in London, Range Rover recovered in France

Subject to an insurance claim following its theft in London, this Range Rover bearing false plates was recovered in France.

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Audi R8 recovered bearing false number plates and resprayed

This Audi R8 proved to be very elusive, when it was eventually recovered bearing false number plates… it had been resprayed! The driver who had previously threatened to assault agents attempting to recover the vehicle was wanted for serious drugs offences and arrested. A good result for our client and the public!

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BMW on its way home from Gran Canaria

This BMW was located and recovered from Gran Canaria, Spain following a protracted enquiry involving international partners. Legate made the almost impossible in this particular case, possible!  

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Caterham sports car seized in Spain

This Caterham sports car was seized in Spain on behalf of a client who had given up all hope of recovering their asset.

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Co-ordinated operation recovers Mercedes Benz

Following a coordinated operation with the Met’s Serious Vehicle Crime Unit this Mercedes Benz fitted with cloned plates was stopped by police and the occupants arrested. Inside the vehicle police discovered seven sets of false number plates and the vehicle had been involved in criminality prior to the subject’s arrest.

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Hidden Bentley found and recovered

Patience is known to be a virtue; on occasions, chipping away at a case with few leads bears fruit. This Bentley that was hidden away was recovered from a remote rural location after several months working closely with the client and police. This is a great example of collaborative working with the client and law enforcement to bring about a tremendous result following a significant development in the investigation. Hopefully the next one will be a little easier….!!

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Hummer Limousine located in London’s East End

This vehicle was found in a nondescript warehouse in London’s East End. Access was gained to the premises and several stolen vehicles including this Hummer Limousine was located. Due to its size, recovery presented our repossession agents with a logistical headache.

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Joint operation between Legate and Met officers leads to successful seizure

After a client received multiple alerts from traders looking to purchase one of their missing vehicles, Legate were instructed to locate and recover it before any sale could be agreed. After an exhaustive and thorough investigation led us no closer to a resolution, Legate reported the theft of the vehicle to the Metropolitan Police. What followed was a joint operation between Legate and Met officers which culminated in the successful seizure of the vehicle.

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Lamborghini Aventador seized and recovered

This Lamborghini Aventador was seized and recovered following a protracted joint operation with the Met Police Serious Vehicle Crime Unit. The vehicle had been hidden languishing in a central London location and was extremely difficult to find.

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Mercedes traced and recovered following two months of continuous covert checking

An asset was traced and recovered following two months of continuous covert checking by local agents, under direction of Legate Group, against the backdrop of prior unsuccessful attempts by other agents. An aggressive and not so innocent new keeper had reported that the vehicle had been purchased from the original customer in lieu of jewellery.  Having sighted and immediately clamped the asset, the agents on the scene were subject to immediate intimidation and threats of violence but Northumbria Police Officers responded promptly and having satisfied themselves of the agent’s credentials and right to proceed with uplift, dispersed the gathered mob and allowed the agent to complete the repossession for an extremely pleased Client.

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Recovered stolen vehicle

This vehicle was seized by Hampshire Police having previously been reported stolen by Legate. Our case manager continued the search for the vehicle and, following local enquiries, pinpointed the car’s location. Hampshire Police were informed of the development who tasked officers to attend. The vehicle was seized and the suspect arrested for driving whilst disqualified.

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Rolls Royce hidden in underground car park

This vehicle was located following a protracted enquiry and finally located hidden in an underground car park in London’s Canary Wharf. Getting the vehicle removed to a secure location presented logistical challenges.

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Tesla Export Disrupted

Legate were engaged by a client to locate and recover this Tesla that was very much “off the grid.” Intelligence was received suggesting that the vehicle was going to be exported. A possible location of the vehicle was discovered and agents attended to find that shipping containers were on site and the intelligence source confirmed that the Tesla was indeed about to be shipped out of the UK. At the 11th hour the vehicle was recovered and restored to the owner.

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We might not be your delivery experts, but Legate certainly are your recovery experts!

Good communication, intelligence flow and collaborative working with the Met Police resulted in this courier van being stopped on cloned plates. The vehicle, hired from our client by the franchisee of a well-known delivery company, was uncovered following an innocent delivery driver reported receiving speeding/parking fines in places he had not been. Police stopped the cloned vehicle on the roadside and on checking the VIN, seized the vehicle due to Legate’s theft report. The vehicle had neither insurance nor a current MOT and according to the police, the driver was unaware he was driving a vehicle with a cloned plate. Research suggests that approximately 1 in 12 vehicles on UK roads are displaying a false or cloned plate.

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Vehicle seized after locating outside a secluded farm track in County Cork

Following a detailed investigation as to its whereabouts, much to the disappointment of the subject who figured they would never be found, this vehicle was found outside a croft up a secluded farm track in County Cork on the South West tip of Ireland. Our client had given up all hope of recovering their asset. A fantastic result for all concerned!!!

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