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Car Thieves Get Taken For A Ride By International Law Enforcement Effort

Published: November 12, 2022 on our newsletter Security Fraud News & Alerts Newsletter.

Organized crime has been a concern in Europe lately. So, it led to a recent international operation involving Latvia, Spain, France, and Europol to nab those who couldn’t keep from breaking the law. While crime is not new, the way some of the crimes involved were committed included a new and noteworthy way to steal cars; the use of software to duplicate the functionality of the keys as a way to steal them and make off with any PII that may be left inside.

The method used was to set up an automotive diagnostic solution and then replace the software to help unlock the vehicle. This meant it could be opened without the physical key. This scam also included a way to help make sure there were methods to get past safety features in the vehicles.

True, there is not a lot anyone can do to keep someone who really wants it from stealing your vehicle. However, there are ways to keep any PII you have in it safe, just in case.

  • Don’t keep PII in the vehicle. Instead of keeping your registration, which has your address and other information on it, in the car, take a photo and keep it on your smart phone.

  • See if your insurance company or other companies that involve your vehicle (think AAA) have apps where you can store your proof of insurance or member information. If not, take a photo of what you need to have available while you’re in the vehicle.

  • If you have GPS in your car, consider programming your “home” location to somewhere near your home, but not your home. Remember, you may keep your garage door opener in the car and if they have the “home” location, they could get their hands on a lot of information about you.

  • Remember to remove all mail or other items that may have PII on it from the car.

Eurojust, which is the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, based out of the Netherlands, initiated the operation in September and in October, 31 suspects were arrested in France. These arrests included those who were managing the operation as well as those who were stealing the vehicles, across 22 locations in three different nations.

Based on what was seized, law enforcement got their hands on more than €100 million (roughly $98.5 million), the domain name for the website, some real estate, three luxury vehicles, and 12 bank accounts.

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