In the vast landscape of the title industry, where transactions involving vehicles are a daily affair, stories of scams and frauds are unfortunately not uncommon. The complexities of vehicle titles provide a breeding ground for illicit activities, and in this blog post, we’ll explore two notable examples that shed light on the dark side of title fraud.
The Case of Fraudulent Vehicle Titles and False Insurance Claims
One glaring example involves an individual who went to great lengths to perpetrate a fraud. This person filed fraudulent vehicle titles, claiming ownership of a particular vehicle. To compound the deceit, he then made a false insurance claim, asserting that the vehicle had been stolen. This led to his arrest on charges related to false reports and title washing.
What is Title Washing?
Title washing is a deceptive practice where a legitimate title record is used to clear the title of a problematic vehicle. Whether the vehicle is stolen, has a lien, or is salvaged, unscrupulous individuals engage in title washing to conceal these issues. In the case mentioned, the stolen vehicle’s VIN number was allegedly altered—a common tactic in title washing.
Changing a VIN number, especially on older cars, is a method employed to represent a vehicle as legitimate. This alteration may involve scraping off a VIN number from a car in a junkyard and attaching it to another vehicle. This serves as a cautionary tale, emphasizing the need for vigilance when dealing with VIN numbers, especially on older vehicles.
A Scrap Yard’s Involvement in Title Fraud
In another disconcerting case, an auto shredding facility was discovered to be at the center of a title fraud scheme. Shockingly, they accepted a staggering 80 fraudulent titles, involving dozens of stolen cars, for cash transactions. The fraudulent titles exhibited various red flags:
- 17 titles were previously reported as stolen by their rightful owners.
- 16 titles lacked a legitimate signature from the associated company, suggesting forgery.
- 15 titles were missing a notary, indicating a lack of proper authorization.
- 15 titles lacked a junk designation, a concerning trend in the current market.
The fraudster’s modus operandi included title washing to remove designations like “junk” or “parts only.” This allowed them to sell the vehicles without disclosing their true condition. The forged titles included 11 instances where the owner’s signature didn’t match and was determined to be fraudulent.
Learning from the Past: A Plea for Legitimate Title Applications
These cases serve as stark reminders that title fraud is a pervasive issue, and those engaged in such activities often resort to various tactics to deceive the system. However, the blog post wouldn’t be complete without a word of caution to those contemplating similar actions.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and law enforcement agencies are well-versed in the patterns of title fraud. Attempting to outsmart the system is an exercise in futility. While some may temporarily escape scrutiny, the meticulous comparison of documents with prior records is inevitable. The repercussions can range from legal troubles to revoked titles.
Safeguarding Against Title Fraud
It is imperative to exercise caution and diligence when dealing with vehicle titles. Legitimate title applications and adherence to proper procedures are the first line of defense against title fraud. Anyone involved in title work, whether personally or through a representative, should be vigilant and ensure that they are not unwittingly participating in fraudulent activities.
Remember, in the realm of title fraud, nothing is entirely new to the experienced eyes of the DMV and law enforcement. Stay informed, stay cautious, and ensure that your title transactions are above board to avoid the pitfalls of a revoked title and legal entanglements.