Car Cloning Scam
Car cloning scam (also known as VIN Cloning, vehicle cloning or VIN Number Cloning) is quite widespread when it comes to selling stolen vehicles (the cloned cars) to unsuspecting buyers, as a rule by the means of classified ads or on Craigslist. Car cloning is a vehicle equivalent of what is known as identity theft. A "clean" VIN number is all the thief needs to know to run such a scam. Thieves get the clean VINs from many different sources: the Internet, parking cars or directly from the seller pretending that they are buyers who want to see the VIN plate to get a car history report to protect themselves (and they may actually need the report to make sure the title is clean!). They then make counterfeit tags and stickers with the "clean" VIN and place them on stolen cars turning them into car clones. They may also alter the VIN that was printed on the vehicle by filing off or molding the numbers and digits. In this case, some traces of the VIN-job may still remain and a careful person may notice them when inspecting the vehicle.
Car cloning may be used not just with stolen vehicles but also with the ones that have a "bad" title (Total Loss, Lemon, etc). These cars are not roadworthy, have water damage or need too much investment to get properly fixed. Some dealers make a good income from selling such cloned cars as good ones.
What is really bad about this sort of VIN scam is that different states offten don't share this type of information with one another so the thieves who clone cars easily get away with this. What can be recommended to used car buyers in such a situation is to run VIN number check, get the vehicle history report and see in how many states the car has been registered. Pay attention to any discrepancies and mismathces indicating that the VIN is not genuine: the vehicle changed too many states, or the vehicle has a different color than stated in the report, salvage history not mentioned on the title, odometer reading is less than last readings in the history, the vehicle is registeted in a different state, the vehicle is being used as rental, taxi, etc, while you see that it's not that type of the vehicle.
What Vehicles Are Most Prone to Car Cloning?
- Specific makes and models, like BMW X5, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4-Runner, Mercedes ML 320, Cadillac Escalade
- vehicles imported from Canada
If you are considering buying any of these you are in the risk group. Check our homepage to read about the risks and way to protect yourself with VIN check.
What If I Fall a Prey to VIN Cloning?
The car is confiscated from you and you lose the money you have paid. And it's a lucky escape if you are not prosecuted for driving a stolen vehicle.
How to Avoid Vehicle Cloning Scam?
- Examine the VIN number very carefully on all of its locations, make sure it has not traces of being altered, filed or molded.
- Match it with the car's documents, take a note of all discrepancies, typos and misspelled words.
- Run VIN check and check the history of this VIN. Try to buy the vehicles only from local sellers, avoid those who ship vehicles from other states or countries.
- Take a note if the vehicle has been registered in different states. That is typical for cloned cars.
If you suspect you are being sold a cloned vehicle you should inform the police about it. Note: In addition, stolen VIN numbers may be used in [car key cloning scam][(@/static/byProblem/car-key-cloning.md)