There is a worldwide problem involving car theft. Those involved have become cunning to even clone the VINs (Vehicle identification Numbers). That is why it’s harder to get history of some of the used cars on sale.
You may become a victim of VIN cloning if you don’t know where to check and what to do in case you are involved. Governments are reporting about stolen cars and millions of cash are going to the pockets of the wicked.
To avoid such scenarios, you need to know how you can avoid a cloning scam case. Before we look into it, here is a report from the US authorities about stolen vehicles and VIN cloning.
Reports from FBI, and Department of Justice
More than 200,000 cars are stolen from the US each year and most of them are subjected to VIN cloning. As early as 2001, about $36 million is lost in fraud transactions involving the stolen vehicles. Since the VIN is already cloned in most cases, innocent victims end up carrying the burden.
It’s also reported that those involved in the crime leave GPS on the cars for relocation and stealing back purposes. What car buyers need to know is that if you purchase a car with a cloned VIN, any legal issues binding to the car will fall on you.
So, if the car is stolen, you will answer for that. If there is a loan on it, you will have to facilitate the payment. In some cases, you will find the car being questioned by authorities due to crime involvement.
That’s how you find yourself settling unpaid tickets or answering for any traffic violations that relate to the vehicle.
VIN Cloning Overview
It involves using a VIN from a legally registered vehicle to hide information from a stolen one. What happens is that the thieves will replace the number plate of the stolen car and then proceed to scrap the VIN and embed the one from a car with no issues.
Where does the VIN come from when referring to legally owned cars? The criminals visit yards full of idle vehicles and get the VINs there. Others know where to look from vehicles in parking lots.
That should alert car owners that someone can come to your car without your knowledge and collect the VIN from an easily viewable area.
How to Avoid VIN Cloning Scams
Those who do these kinds of jobs are experts, and that’s why you need to watch closely. On the positive side, you can spot such a case and walk away before the unfortunate happens. Here is how you can avoid a cloning case:
Visit a VIN Decoding Website
Searching for a decoding platform can be your first and significant step to realizing what is happening. A decoder will help in revealing what the characters represent and the car’s history report. You will know everything from the manufacturer to the right parts for the vehicle.
You can click here to learn about VIN decoder and what it can show you. Once you find that the information on the site is not similar to the car looks. Walk away before becoming a cloning victim.
Avoid the Too Good Deals
A VIN decoder can also tell you the car’s current market value. For the cloned case, the platform may misinform you, but you can also check from other valuable sources. If you are negotiating on a car and get prices that give you a 30% cut or more, there is a problem.
The seller may probably be trying to get rid of the car since they know what’s underlying. They say if a deal is too good, think twice. To avoid riding a vehicle with a cloned VIN, don’t go for prices that are way too low.
Examine the Car
The VIN can be found on various parts of the car. You need to know where to look and ensure that the characters are the same. The first fact to apply is that if the vehicle is manufactured after 1981, it should have 17 characters.
The funny part is that thieves are aware of that too, and you will get 17 characters on the cloned VIN. So, how do you determine if there is a cloned case or not? Check for the VIN in the following areas:
- Under the hood, including the engine block and, on the radiator
- On the driver’s side of the dashboard near the windscreen
- On the driver’s door jamb. You can also check on the passenger door
- On the car’s electronic system
- Under the spare tire
- The transmission system
- The car’s registration records, insurance, and the logbook
In all these areas, you should see the VIN, and it should be similar all through. If you notice a mismatch in the code or some of the letters or numbers, then know there is a cloning case if it’s not tampering with the VIN.
What Are the Consequences?
In simple terms, the consequences can be traumatizing both mentally and financially. We have already mentioned some of them above. Here is a list of what you should expect if you have a car with a cloned VIN.
- The person who owns the legally registered car’s VIN may have to answer to authorities. The charges may involve fraud and organized crime, and it takes a lot of time to prove innocence.
- For the owner, the car is confiscated, and it’s pretty hard to get a refund if you got it from a private seller or individual.
- If the car has an outstanding loan, you will have to settle it.
- If the vehicle were involved in crime or traffic offenses, you would have to settle that too.
- Upon noticing the cloning activity, you cannot resell the car, and that’s how it ends up in a salvage yard.
The worst part here is if you are the victim, you’ll have to suffer for things you did not commit.
VIN cloning scams have landed people in a lot of trouble. There are, however, vehicles in our midst with cloned VINs, and they are still serving the owners. The problem is that you will be taking chances every time the car is on the road.
The nail on the head is that they unknowingly drive until the authorities catch up with them for the victims. Knowledge is, therefore, crucial here, and you need to know such crimes are existing hence the need to be on the lookout.
Before you buy that car or motorcycle, make sure you countercheck the VIN. The last thing you need is trouble after buying that automotive you always wanted.
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