|Damaged vehicles can be put back out on the road and sold to unsuspecting consumers. The “clean” titles and VINs of salvaged vehicles can be used to cover up subsequent auto thefts. (Photos/Chris McDonold, Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council) |
The purchase and sale of salvage vehicles has grown into a multi-billion-dollar market, with transactions taking place online and on a global scale. And, that flow of goods and money has not gone unnoticed by criminals worldwide.
Salvage vehicles are prized by crooks for a number of reasons. Damaged vehicles can be put back out on the road and sold to unsuspecting consumers or businesses alike. The “clean” titles and Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) of salvaged vehicles can be used to cover up subsequent auto thefts. These types of offenses can often be traced to organized criminal enterprises in the U.S. and abroad.
With funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, NW3C provides training in Online Salvage Vehicle Fraud that focuses on the auction environment and online picture.
The Internet has played a major role in the rapid growth of vehicle auction fraud, including the progression of vehicle salvage auctions from on-ground fixed sites to Internet sites. Today, offenders and victims of auction fraud often span state and international boundary lines.
“There are no borders when it comes to white collar criminals involved in commercial auto crimes,” said Jeff Davis, a retired auto theft investigator with the Peel (Ontario, Canada) Regional Police and one of NW3C’s online salvage fraud instructors.
“Anyone can be a victim,” added Chris McDonold, another NW3C online salvage fraud instructor, who also serves as the Deputy Director for the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council.
NW3C’s online salvage fraud training provides law enforcement with an overview of the history and growth of the market, with a special focus on online salvage auction suppliers, sellers and buyers. The training “educates auto crimes investigators on the salvage vehicle crimes, such as title washing and brand avoidance, which contribute to vehicle theft and fraud,” explains Les Cravens, a retired Miami-Dade Police Department investigator who also instructs NW3C’s online salvage fraud courses.
The training takes participants through the end-to-end movement of vehicles, identifying early indicators of potential criminal activity. Students also become familiar with ways to use the Internet to maximize their investigative efforts. Instruction also includes case studies related to salvage fraud and related crimes that stemmed from hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
Local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement, DMV Investigators and regulatory personnel involved in auto theft, motor vehicle investigations, and related automobile fraud matters should greatly benefit from this training.
Front page image: 52459663 Copyright akiyoko, 2013 Used under license from Shutterstock.com.