KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Next time you buy a car, you might want to check to see whether what you really have is a clone.
Captain Nate Bradley with the Missouri Highway Patrol said cloned cars are all over the place and can be a nightmare for unsuspecting car buyers.
Cloned cars are stolen cars whose vehicle identification numbers have been replaced with a stolen vin belonging to a car in another state.
Bradley said a Kansas City man was sold a cloned car six years ago.
"It was a great car for him," Bradley said.
Until police showed up. That's when the man learned the car he'd paid $9,000 for was stolen years ago from a dealership in Florida.
The Missouri Highway Patrol started looking for the car after receiving a "clone alert" from Carfax. The alert showed that the car had an active title in two states: North Carolina and Missouri. Only the North Carolina title was legitimate.
Bradley found the cloned car in Kansas City. Once he checked the vins, he saw where the car's actual vins had been filed off and replaced with the cloned vin of the North Carolina car.
All the original vins were gone, except for one.
"Vehicles are required to have at least one confidential, hidden vin somewhere on the car," Bradley said.
That vin confirmed the car was stolen.
So how do you protect yourself from buying a cloned car?
According to Bradley, never buy a car from anyone whose name is not on the title.
To make sure you know who you are dealing with, ask to see a driver's license.
Also, if the price is too good to be true there's usually a reason.
Bradley said stolen cars are almost always unloaded for great prices because the seller is anxious to get rid of them.