Last Updated on December 19, 2020 by Joe Regan
Howdy, Driver? Did you hear about how to clone VIN number recently? Today, I will show you the ways crooks use to clone VIN, which is more like cloning a car illegally.
Duplicate VIN means a similar VIN used for a different vehicle that could have been stolen. Legally, a duplicate VIN is the VIN you apply for as a replacement VIN for a vehicle. But we are not discussing legal VINs, instead, I am exposing how VIN cloning works.
Yes, VIN can be changed by swapping VIN number on a car, otherwise called VIN switching or VIN cloning. Cloning the VIN of a car is illegal because it could give a new and legal identity to a stolen car.
You can clone a car by switching VINs, through the process of strip and run, switching VIN with a salvage car, and using the VIN number of an existing vehicle.
In the sections below, I expose how car cloning works and the techniques thieves can use to clone a car.
How Car Cloning Works
When a car is cloned, it means that the car has a new identity and that it assumes the information and records of another car.
For example, if we have a Volkswagen Passat that may have been impounded, issued a parking citation, reported stolen, salvage, etc. the record is transferred.
Now, when a car is cloned from this existing Volkswagen Passat, the cloned car bears the record automatically.
So, the owner of a cloned car would be responsible for outstanding parking charges, impound fees, insurance coverage, car finance, etc. because the car that was replicated had these charges in its identity.
The process of cloning a car is VIN cloning or VIN switching or VIN swapping. A criminal can also use a duplicate or fake V5C logbook issued by the Driver and Vehicle License Agency (DVLA) to change the identity of a car.
A criminal will locate a car (preferably salvaged car) similar to the stolen car in color, model, make, etc. and transfer the VIN to the stolen car, thereby using VIN number to steal car.
Technically, even after you run a check online to know whether a car is cloned, you will get authentic information for the car whether it is a stolen car or not.
How to Clone VIN Number
In this section, I reveal the ways criminals can clone the VIN.
Below are ways to clone VIN number:
Salvage switch is a form of cloning VIN where a crook transfers the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of a salvaged car to a stolen car.
Typically, the crook will contact a junkyard where they buy the salvaged or wrecked vehicle to switch the functioning parts with VIN.
They may have to create new VIN plates for the vehicle to give it a new identity. Thus, cloning the car becomes complete.
Fake V5C Logbook
Regarding how to clone a VIN number of a car, criminals can forge the V5C logbook that serves as proof of ownership for a car.
Typically, crooks will sell a stolen car from the driveway of the address on the fake V5C log book. A buyer will buy the stolen vehicle unknowingly thinking that it is genuine since the V5C details correspond.
The crook simply invites the buyer to an address supposed to be the address of the sale. However, the V5C log book is phony or fake.
Strip and Run
Regarding swapping VIN number on a car, criminals commonly use the strip and run technique.
A criminal will contact a fellow crook or genuine dealer that buys the stolen car in parts.
It could even be at the pawnshops near you where they sell off the parts without the VIN.
They will dispose of the parts with VIN for the police to find and report the stolen car as found.
Now, after failed investigations, the police will auction the parts with VIN at the police impound or the insurance company will put the recovered parts of the stolen car up for auction and a dealer will bid for them; the dealer could be a crook or genuine dealer.
Because the thieves need the parts with VIN, they will buy the parts with VIN back and rebuild the vehicle that becomes legal.
Direct VIN Cloning
A direct vehicle or VIN cloning involves a crook copying out the VIN of a random car that is similar to the stolen car.
This method of cloning VIN is the reason why we have several cars treading the road with a particular VIN legally.
A crook will get an engraving machine or a VIN plate stamping machine to imprint the VIN on a stolen car similar to the car that is legal.
Victims of VIN Cloning
Both the legal owner of a car with a VIN and a buyer that purchased a VIN-cloned stolen car could be victims.
For example, if the illegal owner of a stolen car with cloned VIN gets a parking ticket, the legal owner becomes part of the book and would have to pay for the fine.
Another instance is that if a cloned car was impounded by the police, when the driver is pulled over and the police run a check on the vehicle, it will be deemed that the vehicle was illegally retrieved from the impound lot until it is confirmed that the originally impounded vehicle is still at the impound lot.
When you discover that the car you purchased is a stolen car, report to the police; you may be fortunate to buy back the car from the police impound for cheap. And the car would be legal for the road.
If you fear buying a cloned car, read how to buy a car that is not cloned.
What Happens if Your Car is Cloned?
When a car is cloned, it shares all its records with another car that may have been stolen and it is liable for whatever happens to the other car that assumes its identity.
In this article, I highlighted the various ways criminals use to clone VIN of a car.
Sometimes, criminals can steal back a stolen car they sold. They install a GPS tracker that aids them to trace the car and steal from the new owner.
When a stolen car is cloned, all legal issues of the cloned car passes to the new car and both or multiple owners of cars with similar VIN begin to share the legal responsibilities such as parking ticket charges, etc.
If one of the cars with a similar VIN is flagged, the other innocent car(s) can also be confiscated because they share the same identity.
Meanwhile, you may be interested in how you can register a stolen car you bought unknowingly, although it is almost always impossible.
I advise you to report a stolen car to the police before it becomes late.