EUFAULA, Ala. (WRBL)– A new scam has surfaced in Eufaula, targeting people who are purchasing vehicles second-hand. A Vehicle Identification Number and re-titling scam is snaring innocent victims in Alabama. The people involved in this scam are stealing or obtaining stolen vehicles and re-titling them by creating fraudulent VINs.
These VIN numbers pass the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration VIN decoder test. The combination of these false VINs and clean titles allows individuals to resell nearly brand-new vehicles at significantly lower prices.
The vehicles can be stolen from any state and retitled in Alabama. Sergeant Donald Brown with Eufaula PD Criminal Investigations Division says when buying a vehicle second-hand: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“By all means be able to identify the person who sold you the vehicle, get as much information as you can from that person,” Brown said. “If you want, bring it to your local police department and let the purchase take place there or bring it to the courthouse or your local probate officer let them check everything out before you make the purchase… that will protect you in the long run. Because once that money is transacted, once they get their hands on that money, it’s pretty much a done deal.”
There have been two recent cases common to Eufaula involving stolen vehicles and swapped VIN plates.
A statement posted yesterday from Eufaula PD said:
“A vehicle was seized today after the subject attempted to purchase a tag. Working in conjunction with the Barbour County Probate Office and ALEA, the vehicle was located and the correct VIN identified. The vehicle, a 2015 Lexus rx350, was reported stolen from Michigan and used in a home invasion robbery in that state. The unsuspecting buyer purchased the vehicle for $8,500 with a “clear” title.”
Consumers looking to purchase a second-hand vehicle should take the following precautions to avoid becoming a victim:
* Check the resale value online for any vehicle you are looking to buy. Be wary of individuals selling vehicles that are only a few years old for significantly less than their resale value.
* Avoid vehicles with mismatched VINs based on On Board Diagnostic (OBD) readings
* Research the locations of ALL of the VIN plates or inscriptions on the vehicle and visually inspect them to make sure they match.
* Check on-line VIN sites for discrepancies.
For anyone concerned about a recent purchase, contact your local law enforcement and they can inspect your vehicle using a special device that scans VINs.