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The Daily Toad: Proudly disseminating sensationalised rubbish since 1645. 22nd March 2008.

Perspective crime on the increase

two smart cars, one a toy at about 4 inches away, the other real at 20 feet

How experts belive spatial car fraud works.

a smart car with a model smart car next to it

Difficult to tell apart. (Real car on right)

The public were yesterday warned to be on the lookout for Spatial Fraud or so-called 'perspective' crime, whereby the value and quality of goods may be radically altered by misrepresenting their distance from the purchaser.

'We've seen a huge increase in perspective crime in recent years,' said DCI Randy Splotnik at a news conference yesterday, 'and we are warning the public to make doubly sure that the goods they are purchasing are actually the size they are meant to be, and not something smaller but considerably closer - or indeed, much bigger but a long, long way away.'

Perspective crime is thought to have originated in Paris in the early 1980s, and has spread with devastating speed throughout Europe. In the first reported abuse of perspective in the modern era, hundreds of buyers of a 'fantastically detailed model of the Eiffel Tower' found themselves with an empty box upon returning home, and subsequently learned that the 'model' they had seen was actually the real tower, viewed from half a mile away. It was a short step from there to the more lucrative 'Spatial Car Fraud'

'I just felt so stupid,' said an unnamed victim of the scam, 'it all looked so real. The mileage was low, the bodywork perfect - but when I got the car home, I discovered that it was actually a toy that had been held really close to my face. I guess I should have taken it for a test drive, but the price was just so good.'

The Office of Fair Trading is busy drafting official guidelines about how to combat Spatial Fraud, but the following tips might be of use:

1: Try swaying from side to side when viewing goods for sale. If the object moves violently, it might be something very close. Alternatively, if it fails to move at all, it might be something in the distance.

2: Always take a prospective car purchase for a test drive. If you cannot fit inside it, or the vendor tries to stop you, walk away.

3: Be wary of buying objects that you might not usually be able to lift but can be carried home in a pocket.

Josh Hatchett, reporting for The Toad.

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