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  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 8, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , stolen cars,   

    Used car scammers are selling rental cars 

    Used car scammers are selling rental cars

    By Greg Collier

    A woman from Houston, Texas, was shocked when two men showed up in her driveway looking for the car she had just bought. She had just purchased a 2019 Toyota Camry for $11,000 through a Craigslist seller. A little below Blue Book value, but not an unreasonable price. She even did a car history check, where nothing unusual turned up. Yet, there were the two men saying the car was theirs.

    The two men had rented the car and tracked it using an Apple AirTag. Now, that may sound like a scam itself, but according to police, their claim was legitimate. This left the woman confused because she had the car’s title. Unfortunately, the title turned out to be a fake.

    The car was returned to its owner, leaving the victim out of her $11,000. A man was arrested for selling her the car and producing a fake title.

    Houston police said you can tell a title is fake by holding it up to the light, if you don’t see the state seals, the title is fraudulent. They also suggested taking the title to a local police department and having them check if the title is valid.

    Buying a used car from a private seller should be treated just like any other purchase. If you don’t want to be ripped off or robbed, the best place to complete the transaction is at your local police department. This will dissuade a lot of scammers and thieves from pulling their scam on you.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 27, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , stolen cars,   

    Scammers don’t care if you’re rich or poor 

    By Greg Collier

    If you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed many scammers often target high-dollar victims. We often post stories about victims who have lost thousands of dollars to scammers. That may cloud someone’s judgement into thinking low-income families aren’t targeted as much by scammers than families in a higher income bracket. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lower income families are targeted just as much, if not more, than higher income targets.

    Think about it for a moment. People in low-income situations are often living paycheck to paycheck. Unfortunately, this also means that when something goes wrong, like a car breaking down or needing a place to stay, they can find themselves in a desperate situation. Scammers live off this desperation and count on it when looking for victims to scam.

    For example, a single mother from Ohio was finally able to save up enough for a used car. It may have only been $800, but for many, it takes a long time to save up that kind of money. She found a 1997 Honda Civic for sale on Facebook Marketplace. She met with the seller who sold her the car, but afterward, she noticed something was wrong with the title.

    The seller allegedly forged the name of the car’s previous owner on the title. That person had recently passed away after taking their own life. It’s believed the seller stole the car from a deceased man’s family before selling it to the victim. Unfortunately, police had to seize the car as evidence, leaving the single mother with no car and no money.

    If you find yourself in a situation like this where you’re in a time-critical situation with your finances, please keep in mind there are plenty of people looking to scam you. While it may be time-consuming, you’ll save yourself plenty of headaches if you research the situation before handing over any money.

    For a used car, you’ll want to research the car’s history to make sure the seller is who they say they are, and they’re not selling you a lemon. When it comes to finding a new place to rent, you want to make sure you’re not handing money over to someone who doesn’t actually own the property. A quick search of the property’s address should reveal plenty of information about the property.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 11, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AirTags, , , , , , stolen cars,   

    Scammers use AirTags to steal cars 

    Scammers use AirTags to steal cars

    By Greg Collier

    If you’re not familiar with AirTags, they’re a device sold by Apple that is essentially a tracking device. AirTags are intended to be used on things you don’t want to lose, such as keys and luggage. Some have even attached AirTags to their pets’ collars, so they can be located quickly if they get out. However, bad actors have used AirTags for more nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, there have been numerous instances of stalkers using AirTags to track their victims. Car thieves are also infamous users of AirTags.

    One such car thief was recently arrested in Minnesota, after a potential victim discovered his scam. The thief allegedly stole cars, then sold them to unsuspecting buyers on Facebook Marketplace. The cars would have an AirTag planted on them, so the thief could go back after the sale and steal the car back to sell it again.

    The Minnesota buyer felt like something was wrong with the sale when they were given a freshly cut key and a car title that felt like it was printed on the wrong type of paper. The risk in using AirTags in a scam like this is anyone nearby with an iPhone will be notified there’s an AirTag in their vicinity. The buyer’s wife did have an iPhone and received one of these notices. The buyer notified police, who apprehended the alleged scammer.

    Car thieves will also use AirTags to mark cars they want to steal at a later time. For example, a car thief could spot a car in a parking lot. Then, after attaching an AirTag somewhere on the vehicle, the thief can wait until the car is parked somewhere it would be easier to steal.

    If you use an iPhone and receive an AirTag notification, you’ll also be given an option to have the AirTag make a noise, This way, you’ll hopefully be able to locate the AirTag, and stop it from tracking you or your vehicle.

    If you’re thinking you’re out of luck because you have an Android Phone, we have some good news for you. Android also has an ant-stalking feature that will detect AirTags and similar trackers. Navigate to the Settings menu, select “Safety and Emergency,” and then access the “Unknown Tracker Alerts” option. Here, you have the option to toggle automatic scanning on or off and manually initiate a scan to check for the presence of any unidentified AirTags that might have been accompanying you.

  • Geebo 8:01 am on August 29, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: curbstoning, , stolen cars, ,   

    VIN cloning and curbstoning used car scams 

    VIN cloning and curbstoning used car scams

    By Greg Collier

    It seems like nothing evokes the feeling of a scam more than buying a used car. Even when using a licensed car dealer, many used car buyers still feel like they’re being scammed in one way or another. Buying from a private seller seems even more fraught with scams these days. So, here are two used car scams you may want to be on the lookout for, as they’re happening in a large part of the country.

    The first scam we’re going to share today is one we’ve discussed before, and it’s called VIN cloning. This is when car thieves steal a car and replace the vehicle identification number (VIN) tags with VIN tags from a similar make and model.

    This scam recently happened to a man in Phoenix. He found a Ford Bronco Raptor for sale on Craigslist for $75,000. When the man went to buy the truck, it had Alaska license plates on it. He was told the truck had been driven to Phoenix from Alaska. The man checked the truck’s history and no red flags appeared. He was even able to get the truck registered and insured with no problem.

    It wasn’t until the man tried to trade in the truck at a dealership when a technician found a discrepancy in the VIN tags. The truck had been part of a massive car theft incident in Detroit, where numerous vehicles had been stolen from the Ford factory. Police took possession of the truck, which resulted in the man being out $75,000.

    Unfortunately, there was not much the man could have done to protect himself. He did all his due diligence, and still fell victim to a rather costly scam. The only thing we can recommend is to avoid buying cars through Craigslist.

    However, not many people can readily purchase a $75,000 truck. Many people just need a vehicle to take them to work or take their kids to school. And without a car, they may have no way of getting one. It’s difficult to do much of anything without a car in most of the country.

    Scammers are preying upon people like this by selling them mechanically failing cars in a process called ‘curbstoning’. Curbstoning takes place when an individual without a dealer license engages in selling vehicles, often utilizing social media advertisements as a medium, and deliberately hides any underlying mechanical problems. The most significant warning sign in this situation is that the seller avoids transferring the car’s ownership into their name before completing a sale.

    When someone has a desperate enough need for a vehicle, they may ignore any red flags that happen in a car sale like this. The danger is these cars could end up costing them more eventually due to mechanical failures or issues with registration and insurance.

    To safeguard yourself from curbstoning, it’s essential to ensure that the seller possesses the title, and the name listed on that document corresponds with the name on the seller’s driver’s license.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , stolen cars, title loan,   

    Can a scammer take a loan out on your car? 

    Can a scammer take a loan out on your car?

    By Greg Collier

    Not too long ago, we posted a story about how car thieves were cloning vehicle identification numbers (VIN) to put on stolen cars. The thieves would put the stolen VIN on a car of the same make and model before selling it to unsuspecting buyers. More recently, another scam has emerged that also uses VIN cloning, but doesn’t involve stolen cars.

    An elderly couple in Arizona were attempting to sell their truck so they could pay some medical bills. They listed the truck for sale online and found a legitimate buyer. When the couple and the buyer went to the DMV to transfer the title, they were hit with some unusual news. The title couldn’t be transferred because there was a $12,000 lien on the vehicle. The couple said that wasn’t possible since they owned the truck outright and hadn’t taken any loans out on it.

    What had happened is a scammer got a hold of the truck’s VIN, and used it to get the truck transferred to them. The scammer created a bill of sale and forged the truck owner’s name to it. Some of the documentation was even notarized. With the title now in their name, the alleged scammer was able to take the title to a title loan office and got a $4000 loan. As you might expect, the loan was never paid, which led to the $12,000 lien. The truck was even supposed to be repossessed, but the truck couldn’t be found since the scammer never actually had possession of the truck.

    Unfortunately, the couple are still trying to get the matter straightened out with their state’s DMV.

    So, the question remains, how can you protect yourself from this happening to you? The Arizona Department of Transportation recommends selling your vehicle to a dealership to prevent your personal information from getting out. You can also check your state’s DMV website to see if they can check the current status of your title. If they do, it may be worth checking on it every once in a while.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , stolen cars, , ,   

    Scam Round Up: A new stolen car scam and more 

    Scam Round Up: A new stolen car scam and more

    By Greg Collier

    This week, in the Round Up, we’ll be reviewing two scams we’ve discussed before and a new one that took even us by surprise.

    Today’s first scam is one that we thought we’d see more of, but that could just mean that victims aren’t coming forward. Anyway, the voice spoofing scam has found its way to another family, this time in Tacoma, Washington. The scammers spoofed the voice of the family’s 16-year-old daughter and said that she had been in a car wreck and needed $10,000. Scammers only need a few seconds of someone’s voice to be able to generate that person’s voice using AI technology.

    This voice spoofing technology has been used in the grandparent scam, as shown above, and the virtual kidnapping scam. Even if your ears are trying to convince you that you’re talking to a loved one, always verify their story. Try to use another device to contact that person. Or have a code phrase set up beforehand with your family in case of an actual emergency.

    The second scam for today seems like it’s popping up more often lately, if the news is any indication. More homeowners have been receiving concerning letters in the mail that many think are coming from their mortgage company. In reality, the letters are from someone trying to sell a home warranty policy. However, the Better Business Bureau notes that the fine print should tell you all you need to know about the letter. In some instances, the letter says something similar to, “Not all consumers have previous coverage. We are not affiliated with your current mortgage.”

    If you have any questions or concerns about your mortgage or current home warranty, call those companies directly. Do not use any contact information contained in the letter.

    Lastly, it seems we’ve seen a number of car scams emerge, and this may be one of the most heinous. Selling a stolen car online is nothing new. It’s the buyers who pay the price once they find out that the car is stolen when they’re notified by either the DMV or the police. More recently, car scammers are taking the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of a car of a similar make and model, and using it on the stolen car.

    This way, when a buyer may run a vehicle history report, it will come back with the history of a car that hasn’t been stolen.

    However, this isn’t a perfect scam for the scammers. A buyer would need to look out for any discrepancies between the vehicle history and what the seller is telling you. If there are any discrepancies, or there’s an issue with any paperwork, the buyer should walk away.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 8, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , stolen cars,   

    This car scam could have police at your door 

    By Greg Collier

    When someone falls victim to a used car scam, the best-case scenario is they only lose their money. In some other instances, victims have been severely injured or worse. However, in at least one instance, police showed up at a victim’s home looking to arrest them.

    A man from Los Angeles makes his living buying cars, then flipping them for a profit. Recently, he bought a high-end car off Craigslist that he thought he got for a bargain. As a seasoned pro in the used car game, the man thought he had covered all of his bases. The seller’s driver’s license matched the name on the title, and the title appeared to be legitimate.

    The man was getting ready to take the car to an auction when not only did police show up at his home, but they had their guns drawn. As with most used car scams from Craigslist, the man had bought a stolen car and police assumed he stole it.

    It turned out, the person who stole the car did so from a car sharing platform called Turo. It’s like Airbnb, except for cars. People make money by renting out their car when they’re not using it.

    Thankfully, everything was cleared up, but the man who bought the car was out $32,000.

    When buying a used car from any online marketplace, there are some steps you should take to prevent being scammed. As with just about any scam, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Try to get the seller to meet you either at the DMV, the local police station, or AAA. According to the news report we saw, AAA can verify that the real owner of the car matches the name on the title. Use a vehicle history report service like CARFAX or AutoCheck to check the car’s history. And lastly, ask to see the seller’s identification and the car’s VIN before going to meet the seller. Scammers often don’t give up that information voluntarily.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 1, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , stolen cars   

    New dangerous scam uses pictures of your car 

    New dangerous scam uses pictures of your car

    By Greg Collier

    Imagine you’re scrolling through Facebook and all of a sudden, you see a picture of your car. Not a picture of the same make and model of your car, but your actual car. Except, not only do you not remember taking that picture, but you didn’t make that post. That would be jarring, wouldn’t it?

    That’s what happened to at least one family from San Diego. A photo of their SUV appeared in a community Facebook group for nearby Tijuana, Mexico. Whoever made the post claimed that the vehicle was stolen at gunpoint in Tijuana and was offering a $1000 reward for it.

    The problem with posts like this on social media is too many people will believe it without questioning it. As the saying goes, “A lie is halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.” Many people commenting on the post are believing it like it was gospel. Some have even claimed to have seen the SUV.

    So, what’s the scam? Whoever posted the photo also gave out a phone number to contact to try to claim the reward. If someone calls the number thinking they’re helping someone in need, they’ll be asked for their financial information, so the reward can be given to them. Once the scammers have that, then any number of financial frauds can be committed.

    What’s dangerous about it is the family who owns the SUV could come face to face with someone who may decide they want to take back the vehicle themselves.

    Unfortunately, if you’re the owner of the car, there’s not much you can do to prevent someone from taking a picture of your car in public.

    However, if you see one of these posts, don’t respond to it, don’t share it, and don’t call the phone number in the post.

    This is something that should be handled by the police.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , stolen cars   

    Scam takes advantage of stolen car victims 

    Scam takes advantage of stolen car victims

    By Greg Collier

    It wasn’t too long ago when we made a blog post about scammers who try to extort money from people who have a missing pet. In that scam, scammers will contact someone who has posted about their missing pet on social media. The scammers will claim they have the pet, and will either ask for a reward or try to extort some sort of fee from the victim. In reality, they do not even have possession of the missing pet. Now, it seems, there is a similar scam involving missing vehicles.

    A man from Albuquerque recently had his car stolen. Instead of just waiting for police to recover his car, the man decided to take matters into his own hands. He took to several social media platforms to ask how he can go about finding his car on his own. It was on Reddit, where the man received a private message suggesting he go to a certain Instagram account that supposedly helps people find their stolen vehicles.

    The man sent a message to the Instagram account and received a message back within hours saying that they located his car. He was also sent a grainy image of what was supposedly his car. However, to get his car back, he would need to pay $400 to the people running this Instagram account. Thankfully, the man did not pay the $400. He felt that even if this wasn’t a scam, it was at least a predatory practice, since he wasn’t told of any fee upfront. The police were able to find his car, although it did sustain damage.

    Truth be told, this was, in fact, a scam. In this scam, the scammers claim to be ethical hackers who can track down your stolen vehicle faster than police using some form of technology that doesn’t even exist. After a short while, the scammers will say they found your vehicle, but will ask for a fee before giving the owner its location. As with most scams of this type, the scammers have no idea where any stolen car is, and are only looking to get the victim’s money.

    If your vehicle is stolen, the first thing you should do is call the police. You can post pictures of your car on social media in neighborhood groups asking for residents to keep an eye out for it. Some people have had their cars recovered using this method, but do not try to recover the vehicle yourself. Let the police know where the car was reported.

    We’ve even seen instances of a similar scam on this very blog. Occasionally, we’ll receive a comment from someone who used some amazing company who helped them recover their money after being scammed. These supposed recovery companies can be scams as well.

    So, if you’re going through a situation like this and someone recommends some random social media account that can help you, be very skeptical.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , HLDI, stolen cars   

    Will your car be stolen? 

    Will your car be stolen?

    The Highway Loss Data Institute recently released its list of the most stolen cars in America for the model years of 2016-2018. Dodges top the list as the Charger Hemi and the Challenger SRT top the list which is not surprising considering muscle cars are always a hot target of thieves. The Infiniti Q Series is next on the list due to their luxury features. The rest of the list seems to be packed with pickup trucks from all the major brands as the high cost of more modern trucks make them very lucrative for thieves.

    The HLDI also released the least stolen cars in America for the same model years and it seems that electric-powered vehicles are among the least stolen. Tesla Models S and X sit at numbers 2 and 3 on the list as Teslas are more often than not are in well-lit areas close to buildings where they need to be charged. The BMW 3 Series is the least stolen as it only had one reported theft for insured vehicles.

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4I4OyhqyqM%5D

    After these cars are stolen they are often either sold for parts or illegally shipped to foreign countries where these models may not be widely available. A number of these cars are being stolen because car owners are said to be leaving their wireless keyfobs in the car which allows thieves to start some of these vehicles since they have keyless ignitions. If you own one of the most stolen vehicles, it could end up costing you even more in insurance premiums. A copy of HLDI’s lists of most and least stolen cars can be found here.

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