This is a problem all over the place.
These days when you’re shopping for a used car you really have to stay on your toes. Not only are the usual scams more popular than ever, a shocking number of vehicles on the market are stolen. Fox 5 Las Vegas recently ran a report on the problem in Sin City, but it’s hardly unique to that part of the country.
Learn why a woman is suing Avis over a stolen car report here.
According to the Fox 5 report, police in Las Vegas say social media is the main method criminals are using to sell stolen vehicles. “There is a subculture that advertises licenses plates and temporary tags and vehicles for sale on social media websites that aren’t necessarily designed for that,” said Dustin Mumpower, an officer with the compliance enforcement division.
One thing to look out for when shopping for a car online is deals that are too good to be true. If a car is stolen, criminals can sell it for far less what it would normally fetch on the market. Sometimes, they’ll offer to sell a license plate or a series of temporary tags, sure signs you’re dealing with a situation that isn’t entirely legitimate.
Commonly, thieves will “rebirth” a car or give it new VIN plates in an attempt to cover up that it’s stolen. Many times they’re sloppy, using non-matching screws and even bending or otherwise damaging the VIN plates, which should give you a clue something is off.
While you can run the VIN on a car through services like Carfax, thieves usually use a VIN that’s for the same make and model vehicle, so that’s not a foolproof method. Even better, you can run the VIN through the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck online lookup for free.
For its part, police in Las Vegas are on the hunt through social media for listings of stolen cars. They’re recovering on average one stolen vehicle a month. Working with the state DMV office, they’re snagging several more a month. So that means there are still plenty of stolen cars on the market police aren’t catching, which is why everyone needs to stay alert and ask plenty of questions when shopping for a ride.
Las Vegas police have three red flags they tell people to look for: documentation of who the seller is and how to contact them other than through social media, having a different person show up to sell you a vehicle other than the person you initially contacted, and discrepancies in paperwork like the car’s title.
Remember, if you buy a vehicle that’s stolen and it’s discovered, at the minimum you won’t get to keep it.
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