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Woman Unknowingly Buys Car Linked To Massive Auto Theft Scam

Charles Swisher

Charles Swisher

A woman told WOWT 6 News Sunday that she unknowingly bought a car linked to a large auto theft case from Illinois. It has lead to two vehicles showing up in Nebraska.

Jill Mathews said she bought her 2008 Mazda 6 in February 2009 from Car Nation, a used-car dealership on 60th and L. She said for 5 years she had no problems, until Thursday, Oct. 31st, when a State Trooper showed up at her work. He informed her the vehicle was part of the scam.

Sources tell WOWT6 news that an Illinois used car dealer is accused of altering VIN numbers and other identifying information on about 200 vehicles sold nationwide. Charles Swisher is in an Illinois jail facing multiple counts related to the thefts.

"Are you kidding me?" she asked. "How have I owned this vehicle, drove this vehicle for this long, it's been licensed, it's been registered, I have a title, a lease – I'm paying for it I have car insurance."

Car Nation allegedly purchased the car at an auction, which our sources tell us was approved through a CarFax report. She was forced to turn over her car to the impound lot where investigators checked to see if the VIN numbers on the outside of the car matched the one on the body of the car. They did not, which means it is stolen.

Mathews uses her car to get to work and to take her daughter to school, but does not know what she will do now that she does not have that mode of transportation.

About 30 vehicles have been recovered in eight states so far by going through sales records. Dan Likens of the Illinois Tri- State Auto calls it a web of paperwork.

One has been recovered in the Omaha area and other near Columbus, Nebraska. Both had been sold to unsuspecting victims.

However those cars have to be returned to either the original owners or the insurance company. The unsuspecting buyers must hope their insurance will cover them.

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