A Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) investigator uncovered a string of fraudulent vehicle titles worth more than $4 million. His efforts were recently recognized with a Fraud Prevention and Detection Award for 2020 from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).

“DMV’s Investigators are working throughout the state each day to protect Wisconsin consumers purchasing motor vehicles,” DMV Administrator Kristina Boardman said. “It’s an honor to have one of Wisconsin’s DMV investigators recognized for his innovative work uncovering schemes that defraud motorists in Wisconsin and span to other states.”

In spring 2019, Wisconsin DMV noticed a trend of counterfeit replacement Mississippi titles being submitted to Wisconsin DMV Customer Service Centers. The counterfeits were discovered by several different units within DMV and forwarded to DMV’s Field Investigation Unit investigator Joel Ingebrigtson.

After comprehensively reviewing the transactions, Ingebrigtson found that people with no ties to Wisconsin were submitting applications to obtain titles. He also uncovered a pattern among counterfeit titles from other states. He worked closely with the National Insurance Claim Bureau to verify the titles and assist them with their efforts to recover the vehicles.

Ingebrigtson’s efforts to identify counterfeit documents led to the recovery of 16 stolen vehicles valued at more than $500,000. The total value of the vehicles associated with the 112 fraudulent documents was more than $4 million.

“Joel’s expertise in identifying title and odometer fraud has led to best practices that many investigators across the country now use,” Boardman added.

The WisDOT Dealer and Agent Section licenses and regulates the motor vehicle industry and resolves disputes about dealership sales and warranty repairs. They also investigate complaints about odometer tampering involving dealerships and private sellers.

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Wisconsin DMV tips to prevent fraud:

  • Never keep your title in your car. Store it in a safe place. The Certificate of Registration which comes with every renewal is what should go in the vehicle.
  • Be sure the owner signs the title before buying it.
  • Check that the owner’s odometer mileage statement makes sense with the vehicle’s condition.
  • Run an odometer accuracy check using the vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Alterations or erasures on the odometer mileage statement makes the title invalid.
  • If the title shows that the vehicle was previously titled out of state, seriously consider checking further before you buy.


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