• Feb 25, 2013


Police in St. Louis say they're seeing more incidents of "car cloning" – a process where thieves copy VIN numbers off cars in parking lots, and then use those numbers to register stolen vehicles.

Car cloning causes big problems for innocent car owners whose VIN numbers were copied – you could be on the hook for any parking tickets the cloned car gets, be accused of causing an accident, or even find yourself accused of being involved in organized crime, the FBI warns.

It happens all over the country. In 2009, the FBI broke up a crime ring that was cloning cars. They'd processed 1,000 stolen cars worth about $25 million. and given them new, "clean" VIN numbers.

The crime can also hurt used car buyers, unaware that the car they've purchased was stolen. That happened to Guiseppe "Joe" Pirrone, a Florida resident who told CNN his car was taken by sheriffs who'd discovered it was stolen.

But Pirrone was still on the hook for the $27,000 loan he'd taken out to buy the used F350 Super Duty truck. He continued paying his $536 a month payments long after the car was gone, CNN said.

The FBI has tips on how to detect if your car's VIN has been copied, or if you're about to purchase a stolen car:

If you think your car was cloned (for instance, you receive notice of unpaid parking tickets that aren't yours), contact your local police.

If you're car shopping, beware of a car being sold for substantially less than comparable makes and models.

Get a copy of the vehicle's history report.

Check out the VIN plate on the dashboard for any evidence of tampering (scratches, etc.)

Look for incorrect spelling on papework like vehicle titles.
Trust your intuition – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 164 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      THIS is stu-pid, "But Pirrone was still on the hook for the $27,000 loan he'd taken out to buy the used F350 Super Duty truck. He continued paying his $536 a month payments long after the car was gone, CNN said." If anything, the dealer should have to reimburse him for selling him stolen merchandise.
      mnbigbuddy
      • 1 Year Ago
      That is why I always keep the VIN covered up and only remove the cover when someone needs to see it for some legitimate reason.
      gjterranov
      • 1 Year Ago
      Another way car thieves ctan steal your car is to get the VIN number and go to a new car dealer of that brand and say they lost the car keys. Using the VIN number, the dealer can make a new set of keys! To prevent this and the car cloning I put a piece of black tape over the VIN number that can be seem through the windshield. That prevents anyone from making a copy of my car's VIN. The tape is easily removed if necessary.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hate this "VIN theft", "Identity theft". If I have paperwork for years of ownership, other transactions, I shouldn't have to do too much to prove it's me. The problem is that the credit card companies find the real person as the easiest way to re-coup money and the crooks never get caught. That is why the real person has their life ruined. If the system was set up to protect the consumer and not the banks, you would see banks do more to stop ID theft almost overnight.
        tony
        • 1 Year Ago
        Thou doughts that since banks have strictly 9 to 5 hours.
      Mr. Sinatra
      • 1 Year Ago
      Jeezz.. just when you thought it was ok to go in the water...
      Mike
      • 1 Year Ago
      Anybody found doing this should be summarily executed on the spot. You have proven yourself useless to mankind.
        gov111w
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mike
        Is not our society great...you want to kill some one for stealing cars but we allow 3,700 abortions everyday without alarm......America was once great !!!
          PatriciaE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @gov111w
          Without those 3700 abortions a day we would have an additional 1,350,500 citizens a year. There is no way we would be able to sustain the resources for that many additional people a year.
          dantuller1
          • 1 Year Ago
          @gov111w
          3700 abortions?! Thats busy. Im in the wrong business for certain. I love the inflection you write in though, "Is not our society...." Hah. Whats the average ratio of car thief being born from those 3700? I am not alarmed at all at aborting useless humans. The sooner we as a society realize that a thinning of wasteful and useless people is needed will be the sooner that crime will drop. 0 Tolerance. I think we should start with youthanizing the picketters that carry those ridiculous signs of un born fetus.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @gov111w
          I absolutely agree! As for the person who commented on the "overpopulation" those 3700 would create if they were allowed to be born? Is that person willing to die, to "decrease the surplus population", as Scrooge said? I think not!
        cqdeed
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mike
        You sound like one of those who go crazy and start shooting people. I hope you have minders watching you closely. And they need to ensure you cannot get your hands on any guns.
      d1970westernstar
      • 1 Year Ago
      let the illegals still you blind from tax refunds
      d1970westernstar
      • 1 Year Ago
      illegal mex. do every year thats why the gov raisees your taxes ...mexicans take someone elses social security no. and get 6000 to 10000 dollars back refund .....i know my neese use to dat one he is singel has no kids but he says he files 4 kids under someone else
      ehowe8291
      • 1 Year Ago
      Cover your VIN with duct tape, problem solved...
      • 1 Year Ago
      It is easy to stop car thefts or credit card thefts , need to identify the thieves that are making illegal purchases fingerprints , picture would do alot to stop same . I believe politicians are up to their neck allowing these things to happen .
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love how these articles make it sound so easy... Just like the one last year about how flooded sandy cars will show up on the market with clean vins so don't get ripped off. If it was as easy as they make it sound every crook out there would be doing this. Cars have the vin stamped and/or stickered on the hood, engine, doors, bumpers, trunk, fenders, inside the rear qtrs, etc... so take a few extra minutes next time you buy a car and really look it over! 9 times out of 10 if you got burned buying a stolen vehicle it's your own fault for being lazy!
      sinbingrinnin412
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here's an idea- find a couple people who are doing this (even if it's only 3 out of 1000),alert the media tell them to bring their camera's, drag them into time square and publically execute them on national TV. It can be a PPV Event!!!! Then see how many people are anxious to break the law!!!!!
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