A type of motor vehicle crime that costs consumers in the U.S. about $1 billion a year is on the rise, according to data firm Carfax.
It's called odometer fraud.
Fraudsters looking to boost profits on the sale of a vehicle roll back the numbers on an odometer, duping buyers into thinking the car has fewer miles on it than it does. Cases rose 7% in 2022, according to Carfax research.
Buyers lose an average of $4,000 a year to fraudsters, and, according to enforcement experts, most of them don't even know they have been hit.
"We would like to see justice for the individual that pays $45,000 for a car that's only worth [$10,00 or $15,000]," said Jason Shrader, a law enforcement officer for the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles and president of the National Odometer and Title Fraud Enforcement Association, a group of professionals who investigate odometer fraud cases.
Average used vehicle prices rose from about $20,000 in December 2019 to about $27,000 in December 2022, according to Cox Automotive. Supply chain disruptions and shortages in new vehicle inventory have pushed more customers to the used market, which in turn has pushed up prices. Those circumstances also are making used vehicles scarcer.
"I can't tell you for sure, but I suspect with the recent surge in used car prices, that it's becoming a more enticing tactic for scammers," said Patrick Olsen, executive editor at Carfax.
Watch the video to learn more.