ISLAMABAD: An attempt to sell vehicles hired from car rental services was foiled by one of the victims, who recognised his car.

According to police officials speaking on condition of anonymity, a company published a newspaper advertisement selling 36 Toyota Corollas.

The ad said that 20 2018 models, six 2016 models, four 2013 models and six 2008 models were on sale.

The 2018 automatic models were being sold for Rs2.2 million, the manual for Rs2.1m, the 2016 for Rs1.8m, the 2013 model for Rs1.3m and the 2008 model for Rs800,000. The ads attracted interest because the price of a 2018 model was Rs200,000 to Rs300,000 lower than market value.

They said people visited an office in G-15 that was listed in the ad and during one of the visits an individual identified his own car among the fleet.

The individual demanded that the staff at the office produce the car’s documents, but they did not.

Later, some individuals posted on social media describing the activity as ‘fraudulent’.

Local police were also informed, and they took eight of the vehicles into custody as well as the office’s staff. The owner of the company in question had escaped. Upon learning of the incident, other rental car dealers also visited and recognised their vehicles.

Tarnol Station House Officer Inspector Arshad Ali told Dawn that the police arrested the office’s staff, but they were later released on bail. He said efforts were ongoing to arrest the owner and a case would be registered against him.

He added that the police recovered eight vehicles and shifted them to the police station for further legal action.

He said the office was set up in a house in G-15 a month ago. The owner of the office rented cars from various dealers for a two-year period. The dealers gave the owner copies of the vehicles’ documents.

Mr Ali said the cars’ registration plates were removed and prospective buyers were told that the plates and documents would be given to them when the deal was finalised.

He said five car dealers have approached police so far and recognised their vehicles.

A press release issued by the police said that the Tarnol police on Wednesday recovered eight rented vehicles worth hundreds of millions of rupees that were offered “for auction”.

It said efforts were underway to arrest the suspect. The investigation has found that the suspect set up two separate companies and would rent cars and then sell them through newspaper advertisements after preparing fake transfer letters.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2020