A new used car vin cloning scam is making the rounds, and it’s leaving victims without their cars and money. For some of us, a car is a status symbol. For others, it’s a necessity.

Officials warn of car VIN CloningA  car is not a luxury. You need a car here. Felix Legreca wanted a black Chrysler 300 and found an unbelievably good deal on one.

And the car was beautiful, perfect, everything good. It’s going to be my birthday, and my dad gave me the money, he said buy the car that you want. With birthday cash in hand, Felix did his homework.

He called the insurance company, everything was good, everything was fine. It was a smooth ride, until the police showed up. They just asked me to go down to see the car. ‘You can’t have this car because this is a stolen car.'”

Troopers told Felix he was the victim of car cloning. A fake vehicle identification number, or VIN, was put on a stolen car and sold to him.

VIN cloning is a way that professional car thieves mask the identity of a stolen vehicle in order to sell that stolen car to an unsuspecting consumer. The criminals steal a car, then find the same make and model in a parking lot. It’s as easy as going to a parking garage or a parking lot somewhere and writing down the vehicle identification number. Manipulate paperwork, create a new VIN plate and slap that on a stolen vehicle.

When unsuspecting buyers like Felix run the VIN number, it comes back as a legal car. Not stolen.

Felix not only lost his car, but he was also out the $10,000 he paid for it because the seller disappeared. And he’s not the only victim. VIN cloning is a huge problem, and unfortunately, Florida is a hotbed. The average consumer loses about $25,000 to $30,000.

To protect yourself, get a car history report and look for these signs of vin cloning. If you see things like registrations in a number of different states over a short period of time, mileage rates that don’t quite add up and even service records in different areas. Those could all be indicators that you have a stolen or cloned vehicle.

Felix had to buy another car, but this time he went to a reputable dealer. Learning from his mistake, so he doesn’t get hot wheels again. He said: I’m not going to make any transactions again with people that I don’t know. Officials say to always ask for a car history report, and if you can’t get one from a seller, walk away.

Doc says: Always run a CarFax report on a car your planning on buying. If buying a vehicle online from a private seller to be shipped to you, ask for a copy of both sides of the title – and a copy of the sellers drivers license.

And before committing to any online or in person car deal read my popular article “Used Car Buying And Selling Internet Advice By A Retired Dealer” The ASS you save might just wind up being your own.. 😉