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Jesse Jones: Victim of VIN cloning scam paid $40,000 for a stolen car, Jesse gets money back

Reporter: Kiro7

 Jesse Jones: Victim of VIN cloning scam paid $40,000 for a stolen car, Jesse gets money back

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Maril Bauter's retirement dream of owning a 2019 Toyota 4Runner turned into a nightmare when she fell victim to VIN cloning, a scam where scammers steal a legitimate vehicle identification number and place it on a stolen car to sell it. Despite doing her due diligence by checking the VIN and Carfax, Maril unknowingly purchased a stolen SUV for $40,000 in cash. The Washington State Patrol later discovered that the vehicle was stolen from a dealership and the VIN was cloned from another car. The Department of Licensing acknowledged system failures that allowed the fraudulent title transfer to go unnoticed for almost three years. Maril faced challenges with her insurance company initially denying her claim but eventually received payment after media intervention. Farmers Insurance conducted an investigation and ultimately paid out the claim. Lessons learned include verifying all details match in vehicle history reports, getting a mechanic inspection before purchase, and ensuring all VIN locations on the car are checked. The case highlighted gaps in systems that have since been addressed to prevent similar incidents in the future.

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