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