(COLORADO) — The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and all Certified VIN inspectors are seeing a rise in vehicle fraud, and are warning vehicle buyers that if a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

CSP said vehicle fraud is a generic grouping for any attempt to pass off a vehicle as something other than what the vehicle actually is during a sale. This can include; title fraud, odometer fraud, and motor vehicle theft.

CSP shared tips for how to identify if a deal is too good to be true:

  • The vehicle is listed well below similar vehicles.
  • A private seller lists the vehicle and the advertisement says, ‘cash only,’ the account was created recently with very little content, and there is an emotional appeal such as “only selling to pay medical bills.”
  • The vehicle is titled out of state and the seller has not transferred the title to Colorado. This can be a red flag that not everything is as it seems.
  • The vehicle is being sold by an automotive “dealer” not on the Colorado Department of Revenue list of authorized dealers.

CSP said not all personal sales are bad, but to be sure you know who you are dealing with.

According to CSP, a vehicle’s fair market value can be found on sites such as Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds.

All vehicles arriving from out of state must undergo a certified VIN inspection through CSP before being registered. CSP said many title frauds or attempted title washes are sold to unassuming buyers using an out-of-state title the buyer is not familiar with, the vehicle is then discovered stolen or the title fraudulent during the VIN inspection.

CSP offers tips to prevent this from happening to a buyer; and said if a vehicle has an out-of-state title, have the seller complete a VIN inspection or certification before the sale and if you encounter a vehicle listed as certain trim types such as “King Ranch,” “WRX,” or “SVT,” but you are not familiar with the vehicle to know the difference, use the NHTSA VIN decoder to determine what year, make, and model the VIN shows.

CSP said if the VIN decoder differs from the advertisement that may be a red flag that the vehicle is not what it appears to be.

Documents and templates for the sale can be found on the Colorado Department of Revenue website to ensure you have all the right documentation.