What is VIN fraud?
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, VIN fraud is “the act of replacing or altering a vehicle identification number in order to mislead consumers or law enforcement.” This often occurs in conjunction with vehicle theft, in which the vehicle is then sold directly to someone else, though there are instances in which used car salesmen commit VIN fraud. The two most common types of VIN fraud are VIN cloning and VIN altering. VIN cloning consists of taking an entire VIN from a legally registered vehicle, while VIN altering is the changing of one or more characters of a VIN. Both offenses are meant to mislead potential buyers and law enforcement.
What are the consequences and how can it be avoided?
VIN fraud is a serious issue that can affect anybody who doesn’t have the foresight to get a vehicle history report prior to making a purchase. Tampering or removing a VIN, or cloning a VIN from one vehicle to another, is a felony offense with serious repercussions. If you buy a stolen vehicle, even if you can prove you didn’t tamper with the VIN yourself, you may lose your car. Other dangers of VIN fraud include the possibility that a cloned vehicle was registered before the legitimate vehicle and the burden of proving to law enforcement that you were not involved in the cloning of a VIN. The Federal Bureau of Investigations explains, “if your vehicle is the victim of car cloning, you could be accused of a variety of offenses, from parking tickets or cutting somebody off in traffic, to serious criminal activity like organized crime. And you could spend a great deal of time and money trying to prove that it wasn’t you or your car after all.” Thankfully, there are precautions to take to avoid VIN fraud such as, having a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle prior to purchase, inspecting all title and ownership documents, obtaining a detailed used car history report and performing a VIN check.
It is recommended that you seek counsel and advice from an attorney who can help you in the event that you are a victim of VIN fraud. The advice of an attorney is key to holding someone responsible for VIN fraud as well as proving that you were not involved. Our firm can provide you with legal research and guidance for your case. Give us a call today at 1-833-DARFOOR for a free consultation regarding your rights.
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