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How To Verify A VIN Matches The Actual Vehicle

  • 3 min read

Vehicle inspections, Vin verifications, and DMV procedures may seem bureaucratic, but their importance becomes evident in preventing sophisticated criminal activities. One such case involved a group of organized criminals exploiting DMV paperwork loopholes to steal vehicles worth millions in Miami.

The Art of Re-Vinning
The criminals engaged in a systematic approach, either renting cars or obtaining them through other means. While mere possession doesn’t confer ownership, it provided an opportunity for a deceptive practice known as re-vinning. This involved replacing the original VIN number on the dashboard with a different one, facilitating the illegal resale of stolen cars.

The Hidden Complexity of VIN Numbers
The challenge for the criminals lay in the multitude of VIN numbers scattered across the stolen cars. While the dashboard displayed one VIN, cars often had 12 to 14 other hidden identifiers known only to law enforcement. This complexity thwarted attempts to replace all VINs, even with sophisticated tampering techniques.

Falsified Titles and Unwitting Dealerships
The stolen cars acquired falsified titles and were unknowingly sold to reputable dealerships, such as AutoNation. Legitimate paperwork led these dealerships to unknowingly sell stolen vehicles. They had to repurchase these cars, emphasizing the severity of the issue and the unintended consequences for innocent businesses.

Navigating the Paper Trail
Buyers are cautioned to exercise extreme caution when purchasing a vehicle. The article recommends double- and triple-checking paperwork. However, the criminals in this case meticulously crafted seemingly legitimate titles, underscoring the challenges even diligent buyers may face.

Security Features and Red Flags
DMV-issued titles carry significant security features, making them challenging to counterfeit. Still, high-end vehicle buyers are advised to scrutinize the details. Red flags may include discrepancies in ownership information, the absence of liens on relatively new vehicles, or suspicious circumstances surrounding the seller.

Multiple VIN Checks and Technological Solutions
To avoid falling victim to such schemes, buyers are encouraged to explore additional VIN numbers on the vehicle. Some are accessible to civilians, providing an extra layer of verification. Additionally, utilizing OBD vehicle evaluators or diagnostic tools can reveal the true VIN number stored in the car’s computer, helping buyers spot any inconsistencies.

A Cautionary Tale of DMV Exploitation
This case serves as a stark example of how sophisticated criminals exploit the DMV system, turning its procedures against itself to obtain legitimate titles for stolen vehicles. The narrative highlights the need for vigilance in the face of evolving criminal tactics within the automotive industry.

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