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Police alert nation's dealers about Chicago fraud ring

August 24, 2018
The Chicago Police Department has appealed to dealer associations across the country, asking them to share information with their member dealers about a national theft problem originating in Chicago.
"We are requesting that motor vehicle dealers throughout the nation exercise extraordinary diligence in verifying the identity of customers who attempt to purchase vehicles via the internet and have them shipped to the Chicago area (which includes the city of Chicago, its suburbs, and northern Indiana)," according to the Chicago police notice. "We are 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. 
"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 (oftentimes 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 online 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 we have investigated, there are several red flags that the dealership should have caught prior to shipping the vehicle. The Chicago Police Department is fielding at least three requests a week to investigate and recover vehicles that were purchased via identity theft and shipped to Chicago from out of state. 
"In most cases, the credit application was initially approved and the vehicle was shipped. Upon further review of the credit application, inconsistencies were identified and the credit was declined. We have recovered vehicles shipped to the Chicago area from several states including Utah, Florida, Texas, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Questions or concerns can be directed to Chicago Police Sgt. Keith Blair, commanding officer of the department’s major auto theft investigative unit, at