Two wrong rivets lead to Philly auto fraud ring, dozens arrested

(Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

(Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

In Philadelphia, close to three dozen people have been charged in a massive auto theft ring. Busting it open hinged on two small rivets, which are short metal pins used to hold metal together. 

A sharp mechanic saw that the vehicle identification number was affixed to a car with the wrong type of rivets and from there, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says police were on to an auto theft ring.  The group was buying wrecked cars and putting their identification number plates on stolen vehicles.


“Faked inspections, replaced vehicle identification numbers and more than 100 fraudulent insurance cards make it possible for this criminal organization to make profit from stolen cars and insurance fraud,” Williams said.Officials say people who unwittingly bought the cars had to surrender the vehicles when it was discovered they had been stolen.  Inspectors who certified the pilfered cars were also arrested. About half have already agreed to enter guilty pleas in the case.



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