How to avoid being duped by car cloning scams
Police liken black market crime of vehicle identification number cloning to identity theft
According to the annual study, congestion on Edmonton roads improved slightly in the last year. (redarrow)
Beware of cloned vehicle identification numbers when buying cars, boats and more, police warn — but there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
Humans are not the only victims of identity theft: cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles and bobcats can also all have their personal information stolen through VIN cloning, police say.
Thieves copy the vehicle identification number, or VIN, from a legally registered car and attach it to a stolen vehicle.
"A VIN number is a unique identifier for a vehicle — that you can liken to a fingerprint for the vehicle," said Calgary Police Staff Sgt. Kristie Verheul.
Calgary Police Staff Sgt. Kristie Verheul is with the Economic Crime Unit. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)
She said the Economic Crime Unit deals with one or two reports of cloned vehicles every week.
"It is a very lucrative business — vehicles as high as $50,000 a piece being cloned."
Beware of online deals"Unfortunately once they're deemed to be cloned, those vehicles are seized and taken away from that victim," said Verheul.
Here's how she recommends you protect yourself from a bad deal:
Vehicle theft on the riseVerheul said overall, vehicle theft in Calgary is on the rise.
She said every month, about 100 vehicles are reported missing in the city.
Of that, about 20 per cent are unrecovered — meaning they could be getting cloned and sold in other jurisdictions.
Edmonton police warn about car cloning0:33
With files from the CBC's Evelyne Asselin
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