Revealed: How criminals afford luxury cars
Criminals are cruising around in luxury cars and avoiding paying tax thanks to a rarely prosecuted legal loophole and the help of "friendly" car dealers.
It is a bizarre situation where criminals who have never worked an honest day get around town in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Rolls Royces worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But, even with laws that allow policing agencies to seize cars and other toys if they have been bought with illegal money, multiple sources have revealed criminals are sidestepping this thanks to a quirk in the law.
It involves certain car dealers forming relationships with the criminals that allow them to "buy" a car from the dealer but the vehicle remains registered in the dealer's name.
"So if the cops pull you over and ask: 'Who owns your car?', you just say: 'I'm taking it for a test drive'," said one source familiar with the scam.
"Some of these test drives have been going for a few years."
According to another law enforcement source, the arrangement also benefits the car dealer because they get repeat business from the criminals.
"It's not uncommon for them to sell a car to a crook but then still advertise it for sale on their website," the source said.
"Then if they get a legitimate buyer they might get the car back off the crook and upgrade them to a different model - so it becomes similar to a leasing agreement."
Apart from driving around in flash wheels, there are other benefits for the criminals.
One includes avoiding paying luxury car tax, which the government charges at 33 per cent for every dollar in value for cars worth more than $67,000.
"It's always passed on to the car buyer," the source said. "But if the car is not officially transferred it's a way of avoiding the tax."
It is a similar for stamp duty, which is taxed at $3 for every $100 of the vehicle's value.
"There has also been instances of crims racking up parking tickets but avoiding them when the dealers say: 'It must have been on a test drive, so I've got no idea who is responsible'," one source said.
Also in the criminals' favour is the fact that this scam appears to occupy a space that is either rarely or no prosecuted by any government agency.
NSW Police said that while their officers are authorised to search cars it was unlikely they would lay charges for such activity.
A spokeswoman for NSW Fair Trading said the behaviour "is not a breach of the Motor Dealer and Vehicle Repairers Act which NSW Fair Trading administers".
"The behaviour may fall under a criminal offence depending on the circumstances, however that would be a decision for the NSW Police," the spokeswoman said.