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Police investigate bicycle black market

Southwest Finland Police are investigating cases of tax fraud among online bike sellers.

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The cases under investigation involve people selling anything from several dozen to 10,000 bicycles online. Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle
Yle News

Police in Southwest Finland are investigating 10 cases in which a private operator has bought and sold bicycles online without declaring the business to tax authorities.

In some cases the selling has taken place over a period of years. The largest case concerns the reselling of up to 10,000 bikes.

The undeclared business activity was discovered during a criminal investigation relating to bike thefts.

Most of the bikes put up for sale were sourced legally, but there were some stolen bicycles among them.

"This is the large-scale resale of second-hand bicycles which was not declared to tax authorities. In addition to tax fraud, the seller could be suspected of handling stolen goods if they knowingly sell on property obtained by criminal means," said Detective Inspector Mika Paaer from Southwest Finland Police.

Public vigilance

The police department also issued guidance on how to spot a suspicious bike seller.

If the price seems too low, the conditions of sale or identity of the seller are unclear, or the seller pushes for a quick sale, it can be a sign of criminal activity.

"If possible, you should make sure of the bike frame's serial number, the original place of purchase, and the seller's identity. You should also check their other sales listings," Paaer said.

If a seller demands payment in cash and has many different bikes on sale, you should contact the authorities, police said.

Pandemic cycling craze

The coronavirus pandemic has seen demand for bicycles shoot up worldwide.

Retailers in Helsinki reported a sharp rise in sales last spring, with some selling 60 to 70 percent more bikes than they did in 2019.

Sales of e-bikes also shot up, with analysts saying a new 1,200-euro tax break for bikes purchased for the purpose of commuting would help continue the trend into this year.

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