CALL 6: ISP investigating VIN cloning case

Posted at 7:42 PM, Sep 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-14 19:42:37-04

Call 6 Investigates is tracking new information on VIN cloning, a scheme in which car thieves clone vehicle identification numbers from legitimate cars and put them on stolen cars.

Caleb Bay of Bedford said he became a victim after buying a 2004 Range Rover from Kokoo Auto Sales on West Washington Street in Indianapolis.

Bay said he was fixing an oil leak when he discovered the original VIN, ending in 7950, had been painted over and replaced with a new VIN plate number, ending in 8002.

Once he ran a Carfax search on both VINs, he knew something was wrong.

“I didn’t realize I was dealing with a stolen vehicle,” said Bay.

Bay contacted Indiana State Police who seized the vehicle, because it’s likely stolen.

“We are investigating the case right now,” said Sgt. Rich Myers, spokesperson for Indiana State Police. “I can’t get into it much more than that, but it is under investigation at this time.”

Call 6 Investigates has been tracking the problem of VIN cloning, in which car thieves take VIN plates, tags and stickers from legal vehicles and place them on stolen cars with similar makes and models.

Watch below: Call 6 reports on Carfax VIN scam sweeping the country.

CALL 6 | Carfax VIN scam is sweeping the country

“They become very good at it,” said Myers. “A lot of times you don’t notice if you look at them really quickly.”

Walter Vargas, manager of Kokoo Auto Sales, said he bought the car from Indianapolis Car Exchange auction back in March.

“I have no idea what happened,” said Vargas. “I thought everything was fine.”

Vargas believes he may be a victim of a VIN cloner.

“We try to do good business, and when this happens, it’s not good,” said Vargas.

Rick Moorhead, spokesperson for Indianapolis Car Exchange, said the auction had no knowledge about this vehicle besides that the VIN plate in the window matched the title turned in by the seller.

Moorhead did some research and found a Range Rover with VIN ending in 7950 was reported stolen in 2009, and the insurance company paid the claim to the customer.

“It looks like it was parted out by whoever stole it and some of the parts ended up on the Range Rover (VIN ending in 8002) you were inquiring about,” said Moorhead in an email to RTV6.

Carfax did some investigating too, and has added a stolen record to the VIN ending in 7950 and a clone alert to the VIN ending in 8002.

Bay paid more than $8,000 for the Range Rover, which is likely a stolen car, and now he’s trying to get his money back through his credit card company.

“I never thought something like this would happen to me,” said Bay.

Indiana State Police say you can help protect yourself by running a Carfax, Autocheck or other VIN check before you buy the vehicle.

“It also helps to buy through a reputable dealer,” said Sgt. Myers.

The Indiana Secretary of State’s office regulates auto dealers.

A spokesperson would not comment on whether Bay’s case is under investigation, however Vargas told Call 6 Investigates the Secretary of State’s office was coming Monday afternoon to speak with him about the Range Rover.