Consumer affairs minister promises ‘zero tolerance’ as anger over car mileage scams mounts

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The government has “zero tolerance” for consumer racketeering like the alleged car mileage scam reported in recent days, Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli has said.

In comments to Malta weatherthe consumer protection minister said the country “takes cases like these very seriously”, but said it was still too early to discuss possible compensation for scam victims.

“The consumer should never be treated this way. We have zero tolerance for such cases,” said Farrugia Portelli, as angry used-car owners demand answers after discovering their cars had their rigged odometers.

Police are currently investigating two car dealerships, Rokku and Tal-Qasab, on suspicion of tampering with odometers and falsifying documents for used cars imported from Japan.

Farrugia Portelli said investigations by the Malta Competition and Consumer Authority (MCCAA) were ongoing and urged anyone who may have been affected by the scam to come forward.

“Once the MCCAA has collected all the necessary information from consumers, we need to ensure that if it is determined that a crime has been committed, the police do their job,” she said.

On compensation, Farrugia Portelli said the MCCAA investigation was still in its “early stages” and therefore the facts were still being established.

“Investigations are still ongoing. Afterwards there will be discussions about who will be obliged to pay compensation,” she said.

The minister again urged affected consumers to call the authority’s helpline 8007 4400 or lodge a complaint via this link.

It remains unclear how many people were affected by the scam, with Malta Today reporting that at least 300 such cases have been identified. Dozens more appeared after Malta weather published a guide for car buyers to check their car’s mileage.

Questions addressed to the police, the owners of Rokku and tal-Qasab (through their attorney Franco Debono), the MCCAA, the Used Vehicle Importers Association (UVIA), the Ministry of Transport and Transport Malta went unanswered.

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