A growing number of vehicle thefts are being conducted via “white collar” methods, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a not-for-profit organization working to prevent insurance fraud and vehicle theft.

In legal terms, these cases of vehicle theft constitute financial fraud. Therefore, these stolen vehicles are not counted as auto thefts. This may partially account for the steady decline in auto theft crime statistics during the last two decades. National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) will address these financial fraud cases during the next few months by highlighting new schemes criminals are using to steal cars. The hope is to increase public awareness and thwart these crimes.

See also: NICB Reports Drop in Number of Car Thefts

One scheme involves stolen forms of identification (ID). Crooks use stolen IDs to lease or obtain loans to purchase new vehicles. Once the thief drives the vehicle off the dealer’s lot, he leaves without ever making scheduled payments. Often, the cars are then sold to unsuspecting buyers after the vehicle identification numbers have been switched.

“Trying to put a number on these kinds of thefts is a challenge,” said Joe Wehrle, NICB president and CEO. “It’s comparable to a hacker stealing IDs: You don’t know you’re a victim until it’s too late. Most of these thefts don’t show up in traditional crime reporting numbers and become financial losses for lenders, car rental companies and others. The result is millions of dollars added to the cost of doing business which is ultimately passed on to consumers.” 

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