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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
from a report on MSNBC:

"
What’s next? Thieves turn to cloning cars
In the market for a new vehicle? Beware of clones

By Peter Alexander
Correspondent
NBC News
Updated: 6:35 p.m. ET June 9, 2005



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Peter Alexander
Correspondent

LOS ANGELES — All Sharon Lesniak has left of her dream car is the license plate. Her Cadillac Escalade became her nightmare when police impounded it.
"You definitely feel like a victim," says Lesniak. "Two vehicles with the same VIN number and one of them was stolen and they thought it was mine."

She paid a reputable Michigan dealer $52,000 cash for the SUV, unaware it was one of an estimated 50,000 "cloned" cars on the road right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Investigators confirmed Sharon's car was stolen and sold with a copied VIN, or vehicle identification number. That 17-digit code is your car's everything — essentially its fingerprint, DNA and Social Security number combined. It's located on the driver's side of the dashboard near the windshield, and no two VINs should be identical.

If thieves tried to sell a stolen car with its own VIN number, they'd get caught. Instead, they often clone the VIN from a similar make and model, then forge new documents — including fake titles — and re-register the stolen car in another state, selling it as legitimate.

"It is high profit and very, very low risk," says Linda Lewis-Pickett with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. "And the ability or the chance of getting caught is really slim to none."

Why?

The departments of motor vehicles in only six states — Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia — share title information. Another eight — Arkansas, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington and Wisconsin — are expected to join the network by the end of the year.

Critics are calling for a nationwide title-tracking system.

"I think you could cut the auto theft rate in the entire country if the DMV databases talk to each other," says Les Craven, a detective with Florida’s Miami-Dade County Police Department.

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HOW TO AVOID BUYING A CLONED VEHICLE
— Check the VIN with your state's DMV
— Analyze the ownership pattern for any vehicle with no lien
— Hire an investigator to conduct a vehicle history search
— Trust your instincts: If a used vehicle deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau



But what about people who really do own their cars, whose VINs are copied?

People like Rosie and Frank Martin have a problem, too.

"Somebody else was driving their car with our VIN number," says Rosie.

When they tried to sell their GMC Yuko Denali, they couldn't. The Florida DMV said their VIN was registered to another car.

It took them weeks to prove theirs was legit and the other car stolen.

Call it the "attack of the clones" — it's a whole new kind of identity theft — on wheels.

© 2005 MSNBC Interactive
 

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Cass_A_Nova
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That is some crazy shit. I will watch out for that for if I buy an expensive car. Thanks
 

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Agree. have you heard the dude who parked his truck at the mall while he went to see a movie. the thief copied the VIN (from outside the windshield) went to a dealership crying he had lost the key. well, the dealership issued him a new key (how, i dont know) and he went back to the mall and rode off into the sunset... now thats some crzy $hit! :crazy:

Illegal or not, my VIN is covered so one cant see it from outside... FTS!
 

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That replacement key thing isn't uncommon... I'm not sure if the other companies do or not, but I know from being a former GM employee, that GM keeps a record of every VIN and it's associated key pattern... that way a dealer can do exactly what they did in that case, make a replacement based off just the VIN... scary, eh? ;)
 
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