National News

Gwinnett County man out $10,000 after buying "cloned" vehicle

Posted August 22

— A Gwinnett County man is out $10,000 after he unknowingly bought a vehicle that was allegedly stolen in Florida.

The incident happened on July 25.

According to the Gwinnett County Police Department, the man's daughter tried to register the vehicle at the Gwinnett tag office on Georgia Belle Court in Norcross. The staff informed her that the title was fake and contacted police.

The woman took officers to the vehicle, which was parked at her home. After a check of the VIN number, the motor theft vehicle unit determined the vehicle was "cloned" and was previously stolen in Miami, Florida. A cloned vehicle is a vehicle that has had its original VIN number either removed or replaced.

The woman told officers that her father bought the vehicle from a Hispanic male he had met at a mechanic shop in Duluth. Police later determined the suspect to be 55-year-old Gustavo Frias-Martinez of Monroe, Georgia.

Warrants were obtained for Frias-Martinez and he was taken into custody on August 16. He is charged with theft by receiving stolen property, first-degree forgery and possession of a stolen vehicle with an altered VIN number.

If you're buying a vehicle, the Gwinnett County Police Department offers these tips:

Be sure the person you're purchasing the car from is the person on the title (check ID)

Make sure the seller provides a Bill of Sale with the VIN and date of sale.

Be sure the seller and buyer sign the title in the correct lines on the back.

There are many advertisements on social media (Craigslist, Offer-up, Five-mile, Let-go, Facebook, etc.) where a dealer claims to be a private seller.

Car Fax (www.carfax.com) is worth the investment.

Pay special attention to mileage and location where vehicle has been registered and/or is getting serviced.

Sometimes we find clones by noticing it was just serviced in California, and 500 miles later, it's in Lawrenceville. This should be a red flag.

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