Criminals using "cloned" VIN numbers to move stolen cars

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Your car could be part of an international scheme and the odds are good you wouldn't even know it.

Thieves are not stealing parts and they don't even want what's inside. However, they are snatching something every car has.

They're moving stolen cars using unsuspecting drivers vehicle identification numbers (VIN).

It's a modern invention of organized crime. Criminals will steal the VIN from vehicles in parking lots and shopping malls and manufacture fake VIN plates.

"Then they will be attached to conceal the actual VINs of stolen vehicles," said Larry Gamache with CarFax.

When the vehicle histories of the cars are intertwined, working to untangle the mess is similar to getting your identity stolen.

The one place you're most likely to come across one of these cars with stolen VINs is on Craigslist.

"Law enforcement will confiscate the vehicle knowing its been stolen. Perhaps you having written a loan for that car and may then make payments to the bank on a vehicle you no longer own," Gamache added.

At CarFax they say you should know about the seller. You should be cautious of stories that make the deal seem too good to be true. You should never feel pressured into buying. Finally, you must get a car inspected before signing on the dotted line.

"A qualified mechanic can check the VIN in multiple locations including the VIN that may be stamped onto the engine block or the frame of the vehicle," Gamache said.

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