HOUSTONThis is a transcript of the video in the player higher than.

If you watched our tale on clone autos and the dilemma with bonded titles in the condition of Texas, I’ve received a good deal extra to share with you so I needed to sort of break down our investigation and explain to you how we began our investigation and all the twists and turns it led us on.

Associated: KPRC 2 Investigates clone cars, flaw permitting auto identity theft

I obtained an email from Kenneth Davis. He’s the key character, the key victim in our story due to the fact he experienced found our paper tags tales. We’ve carried out a good deal of stories on those people fraudulent temporary license plates all more than Texas roadways. He noticed that and he was like, “Hey I saw that investigation, you should know about this. Somebody was able to get a title from my car that I currently have a title on and own outright and I compensated comprehensive dollars for this car or truck. Somebody was ready to also get a title on it.”


What it intended, if you watched the story, is that when Kenneth Davis went to trade in his motor vehicle, to try out to get yet another auto, he was not able to for the reason that the dealership went and did some investigation and arrived back again and claimed, “We see that title you have in your hand that has your title on it that claims this motor vehicle is titled to you, but when we seem in the program, we also see that it is registered to someone else – another female who life in Spring.” So Kenneth was like, “What the heck?”

And he asked us to look into. That is the place our investigation began. And what we realized, very first of all, I didn’t even know what a bonded title was or is, so let us start there. The cause bonded titles for vehicles exist is any person may well have shed it or it’s possible your grandfather has had an antique auto or a car that they hand down to you and they pass on, you do not have the title, he does not know in which it is. In order to get license plates and registration and insurance plan on that car or truck, you have to get a title. And so how you do that is you apply with the DMV for a bonded title. Typically, what is intended to take place, in accordance to the point out, is you have to acquire that motor vehicle to the local police company – if you’re in Harris County, there is a distinct area you’d go to do a VIN verification in which legislation enforcement officers go and glance at the car or truck. They question you questions, they operate the VIN to make positive that it does not appear again to any reports that it’s been stolen or that there are any liens on the motor vehicle. And so they do that total process and then they give you their VIN verification report, so that you can convert it in with your software to the DMV. So it assures the DMV that no person else has declare to this title, that they’re about to give a bonded title on, correct? So which is supposed to be the check out, then make confident that two titles are not issued for the very same car or truck. What we found out in this situation is that the DMV advised us no, the rationale that no one had to do a VIN verification on this clone vehicle — on this vehicle that appeared specifically like the victim’s – so Kenneth Davis owned a 2015 BMW 535 — the human being who took out a bonded title had a 2015 BMW 535 identical color, but a diverse VIN, obviously. But they made use of the VIN of Kenneth Davis’ car or truck to get a bonded title. So on paper, that human being owns Kenneth Davis’ car. If the human being is concerned in a hit-and-operate, operates tolls, and anyone runs their license plate, it’s tied to the VIN that goes back again to Kenneth Davis’ motor vehicle, appropriate? And so law enforcement are heading to appear knocking on his doorway if it is associated in a crime, if it’s employed as a getaway automobile, it arrives back again to him, so this is the challenge, this is why regulation enforcement businesses and the point out why they use VINs and why they have to have titles to know who owns what vehicle and so that vehicle has a background that you can glance up and see what all has transpired with that vehicle – that’s just one of the factors.


So what we learned is that the DMV claimed, because Kenneth’s vehicle previously had a document – now existed in the DMV’s databases they did not need to do a VIN verification. So what they explained – they clarified that the law in Texas only involves legislation enforcement officers to do a VIN verification on a car that’s needing a bonded title if that motor vehicle is coming from out of state, or if there is no record of that auto in the state’s database. Now what does that inform you? What that tells you, and what was so surprising to me is that any individual could arrive, produce down, jot down the VIN of my automobile when they walk past in a community parking whole lot, in a browsing heart parking great deal, they compose down my VIN, they can stroll in the DMV and utilize for a bonded title and no one will make guaranteed that they are really in possession of my van, of my car or truck, because the regulation does not have to have them to. So it’s a minimal little bit ridiculous that there are not these checks and balances.


We do not know exactly how large of a problem this is simply because the Division of Motor Cars could only notify us that it has accomplished about 65,000 – I have the actual selection – it has issued about 65,000 bonded titles in the condition of Texas – 65,677 bonded titles issued in the condition of Texas in 2021. In 2020, they only issued 42,227. So they issued about 23,000 extra in 2021 about 2020. But what they don’t know is how quite a few of individuals bonded titles did not have to have a regulation enforcement VIN verification. So we don’t know how a lot of of them could maybe be fraudulent. We’re not absolutely sure. They are not monitoring that, but we spoke with Joel Olvera who owns Surety Bonds organization and he explained, “I can notify you that at the very least 1 to 3 persons come into my place of work each day with a stolen vehicle that they’re hoping to get a bonded title for.” Not all of these individuals are criminals. Some of all those folks have been duped into purchasing a stolen vehicle on OfferUp or Craigslist or Fb Marketplace. They purchase the car. The human being selling it to them says, “I’ve dropped the title” or “I rea
lly do not have the title, but you could effortlessly get a bonded title.” So that is specifically what took place in this case.


Allow me wander you again a very little bit. The clone car that seemed just like Kenneth Davis’ vehicle – the 2015 black BMW 535 that appeared just like his with a distinctive VIN — experienced been stolen from a repair store in Sharpstown in December of 2020. So it was stolen, reported as stolen, that’s the very first victim. He shed his automobile when he took it in for repairs. Someone outlined that automobile for sale on OfferUp. They shown it for $2,500. It’s basically well worth closer to like $15,000 so, you know $15,000 or $20,000, so had the man or woman basically believed about that, which is a red flag, maybe a warning signal that some thing was up with this car. But the person who bought it assumed (it was a) excellent deal. They satisfied the men and women promoting it in an apartment elaborate parking lot on the southwest aspect in close proximity to Sharpstown, gave them income for it and the sellers claimed, “I don’t have a title, but here’s a piece of paper, that exhibits you the VIN on this car or truck. You just get this to the DMV and notify them that you want a bonded title for this VIN.” What that driver didn’t do, what that buyer did not do is get this VIN and make certain it was truly the VIN on the car that they were being shopping for. She just took their term for it. She applied for a bonded title, making use of this VIN which was essentially the VIN for Kenneth Davis’ car, so she in no way realized that her automobile, which she experienced ordered was stolen right until HPD Automobile Theft Task Pressure investigators came knocking at her doorway. And you know what they do when they arrive knocking at your door, and you come across out you are in possession of a stolen car, they confiscate it. That woman lost all of the money that she had paid out for the automobile, $2,500, all of the money that she experienced paid to get the bonded title – since to get a bonded title you have to fork out about 1-and-a-50 % percent of the vehicle’s benefit. You are having to pay a bond. She dropped that, she misplaced all the revenue she experienced paid to insure the car and all the revenue she had paid to get it registered with the state, but what was most surprising to us is that she was allowed to sign-up it with the state – that the DMV processed two titles, two license plates to 1 VIN. So as much as the condition realized, they were being supplying two license plates to the very same car or truck. How did that materialize? They were never ever capable to essentially reveal that, but they say that their fallback or type of catch that was intended to occur is that if their programs uncover that one VIN has two distinct license plates, then they are supposed to ship a letter to equally folks that have that motor vehicle registered to both equally individuals with all those license plates and say, “Hey, we have two titles, two registrations for the identical VIN, so we want you equally to report to the DMV and then the DMV would ship them to HPD or whatsoever jurisdiction they have been in for a VIN verification and law enforcement have to type out who does this motor vehicle truly belong to.” That under no circumstances took place in Kenneth Davis’ case. Kenneth Davis hardly ever got a letter, the sufferer who acquired the stolen vehicle suggests she hardly ever gained a letter. And the DMV could not demonstrate to us why or how that had took place or who they sent the letter to.


Just one viewer questioned “How the heck did they get his VIN? And should we be covering our VINs so that persons just cannot be thieving it in a parking large amount.” I questioned the detectives that very exact same concern – how they could get his VIN any selection of approaches, whenever you are procuring for a auto on the web from any dealership, they usually list the VIN together with the Carfax motor vehicle history or they publish the VIN so you can do your individual VIN verify and run it. So anybody could have been purchasing on line and saw Kenneth Davis’ vehicle VIN from when it was on sale right before he bought it or they could have picked it up in a parking lot, they could have stolen this a person from the Sharpstown repair service shop and then realized, we have to locate a cleanse VIN for a 2015 BMW 535. It could have happened both 1 of people methods.

Now the future issue, should we be covering out VIN numbers so that individuals just can’t see them in parking plenty – the officer stated there’s a large amount of fantastic good reasons for exposing and demonstrating your VIN far too for case in point, if your automobile is stolen, or towed from a parking ton or avenue, the wrecker driver uses your VIN, writes it down, to get in touch with in to community law enforcement to tell them, “Hey I’m towing this auto and here’s exactly where I’m using it,” so when you appear out and you just cannot discover your vehicle, and you simply call police, that’s the report and that is how you locate wherever you will need to go to select your vehicle up. So if your VIN is included, you’re going to have a large amount more difficult time getting your vehicle if it is towed. That is just just one rationale.


So I know I go over tales like this a large amount, a large amount of car stories items dealing now with fraudulent paper plates, and I feel what I want individuals to know is that these scammers, these thieves, these people today who are coming up with these crimes of approaches to trick regulation enforcement – I necessarily mean the trick guiding this appropriate, is that a thief could effortlessly steal a car or truck and make income off of it, and any individual – it turns that car – by remaining ready to get a reputable title, a respectable steel plates, that when an officer runs those plates driving you, say they are following you and they operate your plate, it is likely to arrive again to a 2015 black BMW and they’re not going to know the vehicle was stolen until they stop you and they run the VIN and then they’re like, “Holy cow this is a stolen motor vehicle.” So it’s mainly turning stolen vehicles into authentic automobiles.

And so what I want individuals to know is that thieves – and you guys type of know this – are always 1 action forward of undoubtedly point out rules, unquestionably regulations, the protections that are put into put, they are always obtaining strategies and loopholes and flaws in individuals to defeat the program and perpetrate crimes. So what officers wanted men and women to know in this scenario is that there are a ton of stolen vehicles out there for sale proper now on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, OfferUp, and for the reason that there are less and fewer cars you could invest in at genuine dealerships and classic motor vehicle lots, a great deal of people are purchasing automobiles this way.


So they say there is some items you can do to guard by yourself to make absolutely sure you are not buying a stolen automobile – 1 is test the VIN. You can go in, there are a ton of personal sites you can go in the DMV’s web page and you can shell out about 10 bucks to type in the VIN of a car or truck you are searching to buy and find ou
t if it is been described stolen, how several entrepreneurs it is had. It’ll give you the history of the car or truck identification quantity. Two, like the lady did, if you’re seeking to get a car or truck posted on a single of these on the web sites, and you check with the seller, hey what is the VIN and you run it, really do not have faith in that when you choose up that vehicle or you go to pay for it, that they gave you the VIN that’s truly on the automobile. Then you want to go, when you see the car or truck in particular person and make sure that the VIN that you checked is the VIN on the auto, ideal, so that you have the entire historical past of the car or truck that you are really shopping for. Anything that Sgt. Tracy Hicks with the HPD Automobile Theft Job Pressure advised me, which I assumed this is fantastic info is that a person way that robbers are in a position to steal vehicles – they may steal them from dealerships, they may steal them from valets, I indicate, they’re not doing a lot of destruction to these autos to get them since they can’t sell them as easy if they have damage that has to be mounted, they can take the key fobs and there’s effortless strategies – we have carried out stories on this – and all the crooks know about it – to reprogram a important fob so that it works and it’ll get started any auto. Suitable, but did you know that most key fobs have tucked in them inside the actual vital fob is like a safety an crisis vital – an aged-university key – so you require to open that fob, consider out that key and find out does that critical start that car or truck. They stated if they vital does not commence the vehicle, and function on each and every lock in the auto, the passenger doorway, the again doorway, the trunk, the tailgate if it’s a truck, then, Sgt. Hicks claimed, 9 moments out of 10, that means that automobile is stolen and stroll away. He reported there must by no means seriously be any purpose any individual sells a car devoid of a title and a great deal situations he stated the excuse they’ll give purchasers is perfectly, I still owe cash on this truck, so the loan provider still holds the title on this truck, but as quickly as you give me the this $3,000 or whatever, I’m going to go to the bank, make the final payment, then I’ll get the title and in a few of days I’ll meet you all over again and I’ll give it to you. And he reported there is under no circumstances a 2nd meeting. You give the cash and they are absent and there is no way to get in touch with them. He stated if they never have the title or they just cannot discover the title, then you say, Ok, terrific, get in touch with me when you get it, but right until then I’m not likely to obtain the motor vehicle without it. So these are the key takeaways. Make certain that the crucial – 1 vital matches in all of the locks.


And you know, there may be a reputable rationale that it does not, make absolutely sure they have a title. There could be a reputable motive that they really do not. And then operate the VIN verification look at. Make guaranteed that it’s not stolen. Sgt. Hicks explained, you know, it’s possible one particular of these a few points does not pan out, possibly they legitimately do not have a title but the important will work on all the locks, you run the VIN and it does not occur back again as stolen, and that is Ok, but if you get two or 3 of people red flags – of people issues that really do not pan out – really don’t acquire the auto.

And a single way that this could be modified is – it is heading to consider a transform in the law that basically claims, that each and every motor vehicle applying for a bonded title will have to get a VIN verification from legislation enforcement. And that is heading to choose a improve in the legislation. So it would acquire us getting in touch with our state representatives and congress people to make this modify so that that could transpire.


I hope you have relished this story. If you have got any concerns for me, you could always e mail me at [email protected].

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