Motor vehicle retailers must be diligent in verifying the identity of customers who attempt to purchase vehicles via the Internet and have them shipped to the Chicagoland area (which includes the city of Chicago, its suburbs, and Northern Indiana). The Chicago Police Department is seeing an epidemic of vehicles being purchased, using stolen identities, and shipped to the Chicago area from around the country.
The transactions usually start via an Internet search. Credit applications and other paperwork are either filled out online or sent to the dealership via FedEx after they are requested to be sent to an address in the Chicago area (often a vacant building). The scammers create a phony email account in the victim’s name as well as a fake driver’s license with the victim’s information, and they use Google Voice or other applications with untraceable phone numbers. They also often seek to arrange their own transportation for the vehicles to be shipped.
This is an elaborate scam that can be stopped if dealerships conduct a thorough examination of online loan applications and related paperwork and institute a waiting period before shipping vehicles. This will help protect both the dealership and innocent individuals whose identities are being stolen.
If you have questions, please contact Sgt. Keith A. Blair, Commanding Officer, Chicago Major Auto Theft, Investigative Unit via email at [email protected].