THE POLICIA NACIONAL has busted what it described as a ‘sophisticated’ gang that issued an estimated 5,000 bogus ITV car test certificates in two years.
Officers have arrested 13 people including seven employees of the ITV Santomera station close to the Murcia region-Alicante province border, with the ringleader living in Crevillente.
The criminal network- under the auspices of the Crevillente man- had ‘close relationships’ with second-hand car dealers and importers, as he acted as the fixer and intermediary with the ITV Santomera station.
His involvement ranged from supervising fraudulent inspections within the station itself to reviewing documents.
The man had an ‘unusual relationship’ with the station, as despite not being an employee, he had a locker on the premises exclusively used by him.
There was even an OBD (On Board Diagnostics) device, which he used to electronically block any failures shown up by ‘dodgy’ cars on complex technology used during tests- thereby guaranteeing a pass.
The fraudster charged car owners and dealers undisclosed fees to get a positive result in the Santomera inspection.
The lengthy police probe came across one of the ‘inspected vehicles’ in June and given the obviously poor condition of the car, they accompanied its owner to the ITV station in Elche for a technical inspection.
It was found to have 15 serious faults- each one of which would have been sufficient grounds to have failed the ITV test.
The Crevillente ring-leader’s relationship was the dealers included getting cars with serious deficiencies sailing through the ITV exam at Santomera.
It’s believed the scam ran for over two years, and that around 5,000 vehicles got ITVs at Santomera, and posed a serious risk to road safety.
Some of the vehicles came from as far away as Almeria, Albacete, Granada, and Valencia to obtain a positive result.
The police swooped on November 28 and those arrested at the ITV station included technical directors, engineers, and specialised mechanics.
Two second-hand car dealerships in Crevillente were visited on the same day with other arrests taking place in Molina de Segura and Elche, with several of the detainees having criminal records.
€ 9,000 in cash, documents linked to the crimes investigated and a license plate cutting machine were seized.
The operation also saw inspections of more than 200 vehicles in the Crevillente dealerships with some of them immobilised by the Crevillente Policia Local due to a lack of documentation.