Vehicle VAT Fraudsters Arrested

Officers from the Guardia Civil have arrested seven people for allegedly defrauding the tax office of more than 48,800€ in transactions purchasing high-end vehicles. The group would purchase the vehicles in Germany and import them into Spain, without paying VAT in either country. The fraud was possible through the creation of fake invoices.

The investigation began when officers from the traffic department became aware of a company based in Guardamar del Segura registering two vehicles to the same person and two days later transferred them again to third parties. Following three months analysing documentation, officers from the GIAT group of the Guardia Civil identified seven people involved in what appeared to be a network of vehicle transfer and sale without the VAT being paid. As well as manipulating documents to show that VAT had been paid, they also used names of other individuals who were not aware of the alleged scam and falsified their signatures.

Upon becoming aware of suspicion, the company shut down in February, but commenced the same practice under another name, initially delaying the investigation, but not for long. A total of 12 vehicles have been identified as having been imported without VAT being paid, resulting in the arrest of seven people, five men aged between 38 and 52, and two women aged 26 and 47, arrested in Alicante, Torrevieja and Benidorm. All have been released on bail with charges pending. Of the 12 vehicles, 3 have been recovered, as they were in the possession of the arrestees, meanwhile, the other 9 have been identified and located and are pending instruction from the tax office as to whether these vehicles should be seized.

It looks the same, but…

They look similar – steering wheel, foot pedals, displays with numbers on – but the reality is that most cars differ in the equipment they offer; more so given new technological advances and so it is important if we get a new car, even if we are just renting it, to get to know what’s where.

Though some might not admit it, many of us have accidentally put the windscreen wipers on instead of indicating, or vice versa, because the control stick is on the opposite side to what we are used to, but this might lead to a minor inconvenience in reality, compared to not knowing how some of the other vehicle features work.

In recent years, different safety devices such as blind spot detectors, autonomous emergency braking, or parking sensors have been incorporated into vehicles, but the amount of information they provide and the number of systems that must be kept under control can also create an increase in the level of distraction whilst driving, especially when there is a lack of real understanding as to what each of the alerts and warnings may display.

There are many systems that help make driving safer. Most of them hide behind names and acronyms that not everyone understands. Systems like ABS, ESP, BAS, ‘traction control’ or ‘blind spot control’ are part of the elements that, little by little, have made their way in modern cars.

A study by RACE and Castrol revealed that the lack of knowledge about the operation of these technologies can have a negative effect on driving, as 6% of drivers become frightened by these systems, some 13% become stressed and 25% report being distracted. This lack of knowledge not only affects drivers, as the influence technology has on businesses is far-reaching and a recent survey within the motor trade has revealed that some car dealers are also struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing techno field.

It is necessary to know the operation of each system to avoid that apprehensive feeling and anxiety caused by ‘technological stress’. A car’s cockpit has become less like a wheel and a few levers and more like that of the Space Shuttle. Pilots are trained extensively in the use of their complex systems, but a driver has to rely on a manual at best, or Google.

Read the manual, search You Tube, search the internet and train yourself for every device on your vehicle. If it is a hire car it may prove difficult to do extensive research, but you should still closely examine the vehicle’s controls before setting off.

Tiredness and Driving – A Deadly Combination

Tiredness, or fatigue, resulted in 177 deaths and 4,063 injuries, of which 589 were serious enough to require hospitalisation, in a total of 2,722 Spanish road traffic incidents in 2017. The majority were on the secondary road network, where more serious incidents occur than any other road type and there were 165 deaths and 3,574 people injured, of which 523 were serious.

July, August and September were the months of the year in which there were more injury incidents due to fatigue than any other, whereas November, March, February and January respectively saw fewer incidents.

In terms of fatalities, the figure recorded month by month is very similar, although August and November stand out, both with 19 deaths. Similar to the number of incidents per month, February and March saw the least fatalities with 6 and 8 respectively.
Although the majority of fatigue related incidents occur during daylight hours of the working day, between Monday and Friday from 7am-8pm when there were 1,695 injury incidents which resulted in 105 deaths and 2,471 injuries, the days with the highest number in a 24-hour period corresponds to weekends, particularly Sundays, where there were 556 incidents, then Saturdays with 471 accidents, totalling 1,027, compared to 1,695 incidents between Monday to Friday. The riskiest time of day is between 7am and 2pm, when 852 incidents and 70 fatalities were recorded.

Aside from the statistical data, fatigue is one of the most dangerous and common contributing factors to road traffic incidents, mostly because it is impossible to react to the situation until it is too late, resulting in very serious consequences. Despite the risks, 55% of drivers in Spain admit to continue driving despite feeling drowsy behind the wheel, according to a study by Linea Directa which reveals 17 million drivers have suffered drowsiness behind the wheel and 8 million have experienced micro dreams.

Some of the habitual recommendations to fight drowsiness include resting well before undertaking a trip and planning to avoid the most dangerous hours or long trips, especially at night. Make sure that you take a break every 2 hours or 200km travelled. Do not tilt the seat too far back, ventilate the interior well, do not eat a large meal before driving, talk to your passengers and stay properly hydrated during driving. It is also important to try to avoid long and boring stretches, or take more frequent breaks, always respecting the rules of the road.