Motor Vehicle Fraud
Vehicle cloning is an elaborate scheme involving stolen vehicle identification numbers (VIN), counterfeit VIN tags and fraudulent documents. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is committed to educating consumers on best car buying practices to avoid becoming a victim of vehicle cloning.
The potential impact to the purchaser of stolen/cloned vehicle is significant. If you buy a cloned vehicle, and its true pedigree is discovered, the car will be confiscated, leaving you responsible for any outstanding loans.
The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), a Department of Justice database, is an electronic system that links state motor vehicle departments together. If a car is titled in one state, a criminal should not be able to steal its VIN and use it on another vehicle in another state. When a vehicle title is applied for, the database should alert motor vehicle offices that the number is already in use.
Tips on steering clear of a cloned vehicle:
- Verify the vehicle VIN through the department’s Motor Vehicle Information Check to verify ownership and vehicle description information.
- Analyze the ownership pattern for any new or late model vehicle with no lien holder.
- Get a copy of the vehicle’s history report.
- Check out the VIN plate on the dashboard for any evidence of tampering including scratches or other damage.
- Look for incorrect spellings on paperwork, like vehicle titles.
- Trust your instincts: If you don’t like the answers or the deal sounds too good to be true, walk away! If you’re car shopping, beware of a car being sold for substantially less than comparable makes and models.
If you have reason to believe that your vehicle was cloned, contact local law enforcement or file a complaint with the local DHSMV Regional Office by using the Complaint Affidavit located on the DHSMV website. For a complete list of DHSMV Regional Offices around the state, click here.