Newest Scam: Car Cloning
Car cloning or VIN cloning (Vehicle Identification Number cloning) is a relatively new concept for many of us. Car cloning is one of the newest scams occurring when the VIN of a stolen vehicle is replaced by the VIN of a legally registered one. Each VIN is unique that’s why the stolen car becomes the clone of the original one. Then the stolen car is sold to an unsuspecting car buyer. There are various sources from which the thieves get the original VINs; they are Internet, parked cars, different dealerships. These VINs help the car cloners alter ownership documents hiding the stolen car’s identity.
VIN cloning may be practiced not just with stolen cars but with those that have salvage titles i.e. those considered “lemons”.
Usually, car cloners travel through different states to be able to sell the clone. And the bad news is that different states do not collaborate with each other, their not sharing this type of information with one another gives car cloners large opportunities to enlarge their “business”. Cloners usually sell the cars through Internet auctions to avoid tête-à-tête meetings.
Car cloning occurs mostly with SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicle), specific models like Nissan Pathfinder, BMW X5, Toyota 4-Runner, Mercedes ML 320, Cadillac Escalade and vehicles from Canada.
The worst news for the clone buyer is that when the vehicle is found and confiscated, its owner will not be compensated for anything; moreover, he may be prosecuted for driving a stolen vehicle. Thus, follow these tips to avoid buying a car which has undergone VIN cloning:
- Check the Vehicle Identification Number. Look for any signs which may signal the VIN was tampered. If there are damages or scratches around the area then the car is stolen.
- Have the car inspected by a trusted mechanic.
- Look whether there are any signs of odometer rollback. Usually this car scam accompanies the car cloning scam.
- Purchase a Carfax history report of the vehicle. Inspect all the documents connected with car maintenance and registration. Pay attention to where the car has ever been registered. If it has been registered in several states, then be extremely careful not to be cheated. Look whether the car title matches its VIN and other names.
- If you are offered a luxury car with a surprisingly low price then ask why? Before planning to buy the car search alike models in the Internet and see whether the prices match. A car with a ridiculously low price may be a stolen one.
- Buy cars from a well-known dealership having a good reputation. Before purchasing the car, search for the dealership by name in Google.
- Trust your intuition. If it seems too cool to be real then run away!
If you think you have been suggested to buy a clone then call your local police immediately.