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DMV warns buyers to watch for stolen cars on the market

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Posted at 2:05 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 17:07:09-04

The sale of stolen vehicles as used cars is on the rise, DMV investigators report.

The California DMV is warning those in the market for used cars to be aware of the scam.

The DMV attributes the increase to the nationwide shortage of new cars.

The crime happens when scammers steal a vehicle, alter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), create a false pink slip and advertise the car for sale online on sites like Facebook Marketplace and Offer Up.

Sellers of the stolen vehicles create pressure that encourages buyers to make a quick decision. They may list the vehicles well under market value, knocking several thousand dollars off asking price and telling potential buyers that they have received several offers.

"We are reminding consumers that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is," DMV Director Steve Gordon said.

He advised people looking to make a cash vehicle purchase from a stranger to proceed with caution.

The DMV offered these tips to avoid accidentally purchasing a stolen vehicle:

  • Get an online VIN history report or ask the seller to give you a report and compare the information.
  • Compare the name of the owner on the pink slip to the name of the seller.
  • Insist on meeting the seller at a DMV location to complete the sale in-person.
  • Meet at a local law enforcement location to verify the vehicle before making a payment.
  • Notice the seller's car and confirm their identity.

The DMV asks buyers who think they may have purchased a stolen vehicle to contact DMV Investigations at 661-836-2291.