Connecticut police warn of increase in vehicle fraud and VIN swapping in Stamford

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Friday, June 14, 2024
Stamford police warn of increase in vehicle fraud and VIN swapping
Marcus Solis has details on the VIN swapping surge in Stamford, CT.

STAMFORD, Connecticut (WABC) -- Police in Stamford are warning residents that they have seen an increase in the amount of vehicle fraud -- specifically stolen cars and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) swapping.

VIN swapping, or cloning, happens when a car's ID number and accompanying stamps are removed or replaced with a different number.

Stamford investigators seized a total of 17 vehicles in April and May that were worth half a million dollars.

The most common vehicle makers were Dodge and Honda. Stamford police seized five Honda CRVs and officials say they believe that model is easier to clone.

Police said many of those affected had no idea they were even in possession of stolen vehicles and were victims of fraud.

The cars are usually stolen in New York City then offered for sale on Facebook Marketplace in Connecticut -- often for well below market value -- which should be a red flag.

"It's always cash, they want cash, if they list a car for $25,000 and you offer $15,000, and they take it -- think about it," said Stamford Police Department Det. Rick Vetter.

Another sign to look out for is the vehicle key. If the key or key fob provided by the seller appears to be made by a company other than the vehicle maker, it could be a sign the car has been cloned.

Watch out if the valet key inside the key fob appears to not yet have been cut to match the ignition.

Also, some forged VIN stickers contain misspelled words, but many buyers don't realize there is a problem until they try to register the vehicle.

"Once it's at the DMV, they pick up the issue, then they will call the police department, where the person lives, and have the vehicle inspected," Vetter said.

Once the discrepancy is discovered and the vehicle is flagged, it is seized by police -- leaving the purchaser out of luck and out of all their money.


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