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Chicago police warn dealers against growing cases of ID thefts

November 3, 2017
Area dealerships should increase their scrutiny of customer identification and other documents, as forgeries and other misrepresentations are leading to another spate of stolen vehicles.
In one recent instance, a customer trying to buy a high-end car presented fraudulent identification indicating he was from far downstate Sparta, Ill. Sgt. Keith Blair, the commanding officer of the Chicago Police Department’s Major Auto Theft Unit, posed the logical question:
"Why is a guy from Sparta driving all the way up here to buy a $100,000 vehicle?" Blair asked.
In another instance, a customer attempted to trade in a $16,000 car with a clean title. However, the National Insurance Crime Bureau indicated there remained a lien on the car. Blair said the man had submitted a false lien release letter, which the state did not verify before issuing the clean title.
Blair said the dealership generated a check for the trade-in but managed to stop payment before it was cashed. He said dealerships should protect themselves by contacting the last known lienholder to confirm whether or not a lien remains on a trade-in.
Thieves are gathering personal information from people online and then producing fake identification. One way to check authenticity: When using a copier machine to make duplicates of driver’s licenses and credit cards, the holograms embedded on them should not be visible.
Ultraviolet lights also can uncover forged identification.
Blair noted that forged Illinois driver’s licenses tend to be of the previous version of the license, not the current version. He said, "They haven’t quite gotten that one down yet."
"We’re seeing a whole array of everything related to ID theft," said the police sergeant.
Blair said cases of identity theft tend to increase in the evening hours and in online transactions when the purchaser wants the vehicle shipped out of state.