VIN Cloning – What You Might Be Getting Into With that "Great Deal"

The wind is blowing your hair around as you drive down by the river breathing in the fresh air. You can’t believe the incredible deal that you got on your new luxury vehicle – “that was a steal!” you think to yourself as you continue to enjoy the drive. Later that night you are happy with the way things are going until you get a knock on the door – it’s the police. They say that your car is a stolen vehicle and the person who you bought the car from for $12,000 has fled the country. In dismay, you lose your money, your car, your sense of security, your faith in the world, and your good mood.   The car that was sold to you was actually a “cloned” vehicle (so to speak).

VIN Cloning is when the vehicle identification number (VIN) from a legally owned vehicle is taken to forge documents for a similar, stolen vehicle. It is a serious problem lately as there has been over $36 million worth of VIN cloning cases that have occurred in the U.S. since 2001.  CARFAX, a vehicle history information business, estimates that more than 225,000 of the 1.5 million vehicles stolen each year have VINs from legally owned vehicles.

“Basically what you’re looking at is identity theft for vehicles,” said Robert M. Bryant, president and CEO of NICB.  “And, just as you would look to the specific, historic information on an individual to identify and verify their true identity, the same needs to be done for a vehicle.”

The National Insurance Crime Bereau (NICB) announced that it has teamed with Experian Automotive to use its AutoCheck vehicle history reporting feature to help identify and recover vehicles resold or stolen through VIN cloning scams. AutoCheck’s vehicle history reports pull information from a national vehicle database of more than half a billion vehicles. This vast database will help to curb future cases of VIN cloning.

“Experian Automotive has the historic information and the expertise to help investigators and law enforcement officers quickly identify and recover these stolen vehicles that have false VINs,” said Bryant. “Having this information is critical to conducting more effective investigations and protecting consumers from being taken in by this scam in the future.”

Here are some suggestions by the Better Business Bureau to avoid purchasing vehicles that have been cloned:

  • Be cautious if you see a late model luxury car selling for significantly under normal market price.  (I’m an avid listener of Kim Komando every Saturday on the radio from 9am-12.  And whenever she comes across a potential scam, she warns, “If it seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true.”
  • If the seller claims to be selling because he is “desperate and needs to sell to get cash quick” exercise due diligence.
  • Check the VIN number on the dashboard against the car’s title documents. If there is a discrepancy, avoid the vehicle and question why.
  • the VIN number on the dashboard should be the same as under the hood and in the door jamb on the drivers side.
  • Check all of the cars documentation – Fake documentation can sometimes be identified by illogical statements and misspellings.
  • If you have any doubt, obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report.
  • If you think you are a victim of VIN cloning contact your local police department.

For more information on VIN cloning, please visit If you have any questions or would like further explination about VIN cloning, please feel free to contact us, toll free, at (800) 947-8633 and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

And if you would like us to look up a vehicle history report for you on Experian’s AutoCheck, just give the Sales Staff at Runde’s a call and we’ll be happy to look up a specific VIN for you to help ease your worries about purchasing a pre-driven vehicle.


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