Drivers warned over 'dodgy' road practice 'putting people's lives in danger'

Fake roadworthy certificates are being sold online with aurthorities warning drivers to always check before they pay.

Business owner Michael Georges inside his garage at Absolute Car Care Brisbane.
Business owner Michael Georges, of Absolute Car Care in Brisbane, has fallen victim to the scam with fraudulent roadworthy certificates listing his business details. Source: 7News

Drivers are being warned of an illegal practice creating a hidden danger on Australian roads. 'Dodgy' roadworthy certificates for secondhand cars are in circulation, being issued by online scammers impersonating legitimate businesses, unbeknownst to vehicle owners or the businesses themselves.

One look on Facebook can reveal numerous ads selling '100 per cent guaranteed' roadworthy certificates which are required for a vehicle to be considered safe on Aussie roads. The catch however is that they're issued without the car ever being inspected meaning some are likely unsafe and not suitable to drive, putting authorities on high alert.

The only details scammers need are the car's registration, type of vehicle and VIN number, Rod Camm from the Motoring Trades Association warned. Then they're able to forge a digital certificate, often so good it's hard for people to tell the difference. But experts are warning Aussies "not to fall for these dodgy roadworthy certificates".

It comes as a reminder of the rising death toll on our roads, with Aussies being urged to remain vigilant and adhere to vehicle safety standards in a desperate bid to keep fatalities down. The issue is rife in Queensland, which has seen an increase in road fatalities for the first six months of 2024.

Facebook ad for digital roadworthy certificate, including a picture of a 4WD.
Fake digital roadworthy certificates are being handed out online for vehicles that haven't passed required safety checks. Source: 7News

Michael Georges, who owns Absolute Car Care in Brisbane, says his business is often targeted with fake certificates being handed out with his details. It's resulted in angry motorists rocking up at his garage once realising the certificate they received is fake.

"We've been getting a lot of phone calls from irate customers," he told 7 News. "People's lives are in danger. It's a real serious issue."

The Motoring Trades Association warns people buying a secondhand car could be caught with a death trap. It is urging people to "check that a roadworthy certificate is legitimate before you pay the money".

Queensland Transport and Main Roads (TMR) is aware of the fraudulent certificates being issued and told Yahoo News Australia it "is taking action" to weed out the crime.

Two dodgy roadworthy certificates in Queensland.
The fake certificates (left) look almost as real as the legitimate ones (right) and sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Source: 7News

"TMR is aware that a number of certificates are being issued for sight-unseen vehicles, many of which are highly defective and would not pass a vehicle safety inspection," the road authority said in a statement.

"Where a vehicle is registered or attempted to be registered using a fraudulent certificate, TMR will issue a notice to the vehicle owner requiring the owner to obtain a new safety certificate, or the registration will be cancelled."

"TMR is also aware of fraudulent certificates being issued by third parties on social media who are not accredited by TMR under the AIS [approved inspection station] scheme," they added. "TMR is engaging with the Office of Fair Trading and Queensland Police Service on this matter."

TMR's Director General Sally Stannard warned Aussies not to "get caught up with scammers".

"Buying a safety certificate on social media like Facebook or via text message without a proper physical inspection by an accredited provider could cost you dearly," she said. "Choosing a used vehicle is a big decision. I urge buyers to research and inspect the vehicle you plan to buy and know your rights when buying it."

In an alarming twist, investigations also identified a large number of drivers "knowingly seeking out the fraudulent certificates to avoid paying for repairs to meet minimum safety standards before selling or registering a vehicle".

"Buyers of fraudulent certificates should be aware that presenting a false or improperly obtained safety certificate is an offence and that they can be prosecuted," TMR added.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.