Automotive data company Cap HPI has warned UK-based leasing companies to be vigilant after learning criminals are using them to fraudulently obtain high-performance cars.

The information has come from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which said that cars are being leased using false information.

Cap HPI said that leasing cars gives criminals the chance to move the vehicles abroad and change index plates and bodywork to mask the original identity of the car, as a leasing company may be less likely to notice a stolen car compared with a private owner.

The data giant said cars are typically shipped to countries such as Cyprus, Spain and Poland, and added the criminals “have no intention of bringing them back to the UK”.

“The best action UK leasing companies can take to minimise risk of vehicle theft is to be ultra-diligent when checking customer authenticity and to look at all methods of verifying identification. The fitting of appropriate tracking devices in all vehicles will also minimise the risk of theft,” said Barry Shorto, head of industry relations at Cap HPI.