Looking to buy a used car? DMV warns buyers to beware when it comes to private party car sales

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Recently, Las Vegas police reported seeing a 26% jump in stolen vehicle car cases so it should come as no surprise that the Nevada DMV is recovering more stolen vehicles.

The DMV has recovered 27 stolen vehicles worth an estimated $1,017,893 in 2021.  In May alone, the DMV recovered 10 stolen vehicles valued at $480,010. Stolen vehicles are impounded as evidence, then eventually returned to their rightful owner.

The DMV is giving a warning to people who are shopping for used cars to be extra careful in private party sales. They report one common scheme is to sell a stolen rental car that is still under a rental contract and hasn’t yet been reported stolen.

“The person trying to register the car at the DMV is usually a victim who loses both the car and the money they paid for it,” said DMV Compliance Enforcement Administrator J.D. Decker. “You need to be especially wary of cars coming from out-of-state and sellers who want cash.”

Cars for sale can also be from local thefts at homes, public parking lots or even auto dealerships.

According to the DMV, sophisticated auto theft rings can take vehicles without damaging them and create convincing, but forged, titles and other documentation.

Decker said the best way to detect a fraudulent vehicle sale it to take the vehicle to a DMV inspection station, have the vehicle checked and complete the sale there. No appointment is needed and there is no cost.

“If you’re wondering about a car, you can bring it into our VIN inspection site for free,” said DMV spokesperson Kevin Malone. “We’ll check the paperwork and see if everything lines up and everything looks good.”

Malone said, “We have some pretty sophisticated auto theft rings operating in the region and country. One thing they’ll do is rent a car and try and sell it in another state, before the rental car company even realizes what’s happening or reports it as stolen.”

Here are some tips for car buyers:

  • If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • A private party seller must provide a title to the vehicle. Examine the title for poor print quality and signs of forgery. A bill of sale is not acceptable.
  • Be wary of sellers who was cash or to transfer funds through PayPal or similar services.
  • Do not purchase a car on an empty lot or public parking lot. Complete the sale at the DMV or seller’s residence.
  • Check the ID of the seller and snap a photo. Be wary of sellers who have an ID from another state or car registration from another state.
  • Inspect the care for signs it may be a rental or dealer inventory. Has a sticker or sign been removed from the window? Does the car have flood damage?
  • An auto dealer must have a fixed place of business. Nevada dealers are not allowed to sell vehicles from homes, parking lots or empty corners. Dealers must have business licenses in any state.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau also offers a free stolen and total loss vehicle check on its website.

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