Under the German program, which started in February, anyone who scraps a car that is at least nine years old can apply for a government subsidy of $3,600 toward the purchase of a new car. The German federal government has earmarked about $7 billion for the plan, which has been so popular that car sales in Germany could hit a 10-year high of 3.5 million vehicles this year.The problem for the police is that German lawmakers were in such a hurry to approve the money to boost the car industry that they did not create sufficient controls to prevent abuse of the system. Dealers are supposed to scrap the cars, but if they don't, it's only considered a minor violation, not a criminal offense. "It just opens the door for abuse," says Ronald Schulze, an official at the Federation of German Detectives. "We can't charge them with fraud because lawmakers failed to define the crime."
The plan is meant to help scrap dealers too. They get the old cars for free, the idea being that they can then earn money by selling the scrap metal to steel companies. But with scrap prices taking a dive, some dealers are eying the bigger profits that come from selling the cars abroad. "The problem is that there is no supervision of the companies to ensure that they actually scrap the cars," says Frank Wolff, director of the environmental-crime division of the Hamburg police. "These firms are supposed to turn the cars into scrap, but instead, some are selling them to buyers in Africa."
Over the past few weeks, Hamburg police at the shipyards have turned up 43 cars that had been declared scrapped but were illegally earmarked for export to buyers in Africa and Eastern Europe. The numbers so far seem small, but some law-enforcement experts warn that as many as 50,000 cars destined for the scrap heap have already been sold illegally — at the expense of German taxpayers.
Oh yeah! Go clunkers! Don't you just love it when law-makers fuck up like this? And ream the taxpayer for something stupid? And leave the door open to abuse to make a stupid idea even worse?
The only thing that reassures me is that our own government is nowhere near as incompetent as the Ger ... oh, shit.