The Chicago Police Department has requested that we notify dealers and associations in all states, that dealers throughout the nation should exercise extraordinary diligence 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).
Law enforcement is seeing an epidemic of vehicles being purchased via identity theft and shipped to the Chicago area from around the country. The vehicles are usually valued at $50,000 or more, and the transactions usually start via an internet search. Credit applications and other paperwork are either filled out on-line or sent to the dealership via FedEx after they are requested to be sent to an address in the Chicago area (often times a vacant building). The offenders 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 whose phone numbers are not traceable.
The offenders oftentimes seek to arrange their own transportation for the vehicles to be shipped. This is an elaborate scheme that can be stopped if dealerships conduct a thorough examination of on-line loan applications and related paperwork and institute a waiting period before shipping the vehicle. This will help protect both the dealership and innocent persons whose identities are being stolen. In every incident that has been investigated, there are several red flags that the dealership should have caught prior to shipping the vehicle.
If you have information, questions or concerns, please contact Sgt. Keith A. Blair, Commanding Officer, Chicago Major Auto Theft, Investigative Unit, Central Investigations Division – Unit #606, Chicago Police Department, 3151 W. Harrison St., Chicago, IL 60612 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please alert your dealers, and also refer them to NADA’s A Dealer Guide to the FTC Red Flags and Address Discrepancy Rules: Protecting Against Identity Theft.