VIN Cloning Continues to be a Growing Trend

NICB Special Agent David Renaud talks about how car thieves are taking the vehicle identification number, or VIN, of your car and placing it on a stolen vehicle for resale.

CBS46 News

If you’re buying a car and you’re worried it might be stolen, you can go to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s website to run an online VIN check. The website offers a free service that tells you if a vehicle has been reported as stolen. The website is

After the Blizzard Watch Out For Shady Contractors

Blizzard_-_Dupont_CircleThe blizzard may not be there yet, but there’s one more threat that those living on the east coast need to watch out for: shady contractors, or “storm chasers,” looking to make a fast buck using your homeowners insurance.

After a disaster, contractors will often go door-to-door in affected neighborhoods offering clean up, construction or other repair services. Most of these business people are reputable, but many are not. The dishonest ones may execute schemes to defraud innocent victims such as:

  • Pocketing the payment and never showing up for the job;
  • Never completing a job that was started; or
  • Using inferior materials and performing shoddy work that’s not up to code.

Almost all of these scams are unsolicited—they begin with a knock on the door from a contractor seeking work. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recommends that “if you didn’t request it, reject it.” If you have storm damage, call your insurance company first.

For more tips download our Disaster Fraud brochure here.


NICB Featured in Several Media Outlets Regarding VIN Cloning Recovery

Last week the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released the story on VIN Cloning to the public. Over the weekend the story was featured on ABC World News Tonight, Good Morning America and various newspaper outlets. Below are some of the websites you can find our story at:

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ABC World News Tonight

How Thieves Can Steal Your Car’s Identity



Good Morning America

VIN Cloning Steals the Identities of Other Vehicles

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Dubuque Telegraph Herald

Invasion of the Car Snatchers?



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Yahoo! Finance

Stolen Vehicle Clones: Hot Cars in Cool Disguises


Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411.

Wisconsin Woman Unknowingly Buys a Cloned Stolen Vehicle

The accompanying video describes why consumers should be careful when buying a used vehicle, especially one that’s price “too good to be true.” An innocent woman in Lancaster, Wisc., bought a used GMC Denali for $30,000 and for the last two years she has been enjoying its use. Meanwhile, Carfax notified NICB that the Denali might be a “clone” since Carfax had information that an identical Denali was currently registered in Peabody, Mass.

Investigation by NICB quickly revealed that the vehicle in Peabody was the legitimate vehicle and that the one in Lancaster was most likely a stolen vehicle. The vehicle owner in Lancaster was contacted and agreed to bring her Denali to the police department for an inspection. NICB Senior Special Agent Larry Burzynski confirmed that it was a stolen vehicle taken from Palm Beach County, Fla., in 2007.

Fortunately for the clone buyer, Wisconsin state law mandates that all new and used car dealers be licensed and bonded. If law enforcement confiscates a vehicle from an individual who purchased the vehicle from a dealer, then the dealer must make the buyer whole again. Since the buyer in this case bought the clone from a dealer and it was confiscated by law enforcement, she will not suffer any financial loss from the transaction. But in most other states, this same situation could result in the complete loss of a buyer’s investment.


The NICB offers these tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of vehicle cloning:

  • Check the VIN with the department of motor vehicles
  • Use NICB’s free VINCheck service
  • Be careful when purchasing a used vehicle from someone advertising it online or in the newspaper
  • Have a private company conduct a vehicle history report
  • Trust your instincts. If a used vehicle deal sounds too good to be true… walk away
Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or submitting a form on our website. Or, download the NICB Fraud Tips app on your iPhone or Android device.


Fraud Files: Crashing U-Haul Trucks for Cash

In this edition of Fraud Files we take a look at five alleged suspects staging a series of accidents, in which rented U-Haul trucks were deliberately crashed into cars loaded with people who were in on the con. The participants in the cars were then directed to be treated for fictitious injuries at a medical clinic.

To view more editions of Fraud Files click here.

Joe Wehrle, NICB President, to Address International Association of Special Investigation Units Annual Seminar

Event Recognizes IASIU’s 30th Anniversary

_WehrleIASIU2014RevisedGREENSBORO, N.C., Sept. 15, 2014 — National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) President and Chief Executive Officer, Joe Wehrle, addresses the International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU) during its annual training seminar today in Greensboro.

In his remarks to the 700 in attendance, Wehrle will place special focus on emerging vehicle theft scams that utilize vehicle financing schemes and counterfeit vehicle identification numbers to obtain and resell stolen vehicles to innocent consumers or export them overseas.

“Many of today’s thefts aren’t showing up in the annual theft statistics that show a downward trend in auto theft,” says Wehrle. “That’s because they are considered financial crimes. They are impacting the manufacturers, the lenders, rental companies, the dealers and, in some instances, the insurance companies. And I’m here to tell you they are largely high dollar thefts involving newer vehicles—and they are costing the American economy millions, perhaps billions of dollars a year.”

Read the full press release.


NICB Report: Texas Leads the Nation in Pickup Truck Thefts

California and Florida Round Out the Top Three States

PickupTruck2014GraphicDES PLAINES, Ill., Sept. 11, 2014 — As revealed in a new report released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), pickup trucks are a popular choice for both personal and work use, and given their wide range of applications and utility, they have become a favorite target by vehicle thieves as well. Between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2013, 9,441 pickup trucks were reported stolen. Full-sized pickup trucks had more thefts with 8,367 thefts versus 895 for compact pickups. Mid-sized pickup trucks had the fewest thefts with 179.

The report looks at theft data only for model years 2011, 2012 and 2013 pickups stolen between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2013. The classes of pickups are compact, mid-size and full size as described in Automotive News’ Data Center.

Read the full press release in the NICB Newsroom.


NICB: 2013 Tailgate Thefts Rise 31 Percent Compared to 2012

Texas, California and Arizona Most Active

TailgateTheftsGraphicDES PLAINES, Ill., Sept. 3, 2014 — The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released a new report that shows that insured tailgate thefts rose from 831 in 2012 to 1,090 in 2013—an increase of 31 percent.

The report reviews claims data submitted by insurance companies between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2013.

The top three states for tailgate thefts during this period were: Texas (752), California (334) and Arizona (207). The cities reporting the most thefts were: Houston (145), San Antonio (125) and Dallas (91).

The top three cities for tailgate thefts were: Houston (145), San Antonio (125), and Dallas (91).

The underground market is lively for items that can be acquired at a fraction of their legitimate cost. Tailgates are no exception. While many of these stolen tailgates end up on similar vehicles, others are simply sold for scrap, which contributes to the nationwide problem of metal theft.

Tailgate thefts can occur anywhere; several episodes of multiple thefts have occurred in single locations, such as auto dealers’ lots and shopping malls. Since a tailgate theft takes just seconds to accomplish, consumers might consider using an after-market security device, such as a hinge lock to thwart criminals.

View the complete report here.

Joe Wehrle, NICB President, to Address International Financial Crimes Investigators

Insurance Fraud and its Impact on the Insurance Industry

NICB President & CEO Joe Wehrle

NICB President & CEO Joe Wehrle

PHOENIX, Ariz.—National Insurance Crime Bureau President and Chief Executive Officer, Joe Wehrle, will address the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators during its annual training conference today in Phoenix.

Wehrle will provide an overview of the changing face of insurance fraud and how it is impacting the property and casualty insurance industry. From medical fraud rings to organized criminal elements hijacking goods from interstate transportation networks, Wehrle will describe what NICB investigators and their insurance and law enforcement colleagues are encountering across America—and what NICB is doing to stop it.

Topics to be discussed include NICB’s major medical fraud task force operations, the alarming rise in questionable claims, stolen vehicle and specialized equipment recovery efforts and NICB’s analysis of vehicle finance scams.

Wehrle will address attendees comprised of law enforcement, bank and credit card fraud investigators, retail merchant investigators and loss prevention professionals, among others, during two presentations beginning at 2:00pm today at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Hotel. For additional information visit here.

About the IAFCI: The association, a non-profit international organization, will provide services and an environment within which information about financial fraud, fraud investigation and fraud prevention methods can be collected, exchanged and taught for the common good of the financial payment industry and our global society. To learn more visit

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation’s leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote $371 billion in insurance premiums in 2013, or more than 78 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 93 percent ($168 billion) of the nation’s personal auto insurance. To learn more visit