Canadian Underwriter

Here are the latest trends in insurance fraud

December 8, 2021   by Jason Contant

Print this page Share

“Re-vinning” of stolen vehicles — where thieves steal a vehicle, put what appears to be a legitimate vehicle identification number (VIN) on the front dash and then sell it to an unsuspecting customer — is increasing as a fraud trend, Équité Association told Canadian Underwriter Tuesday.

Équité Association released its list of Top 10 stolen vehicles in Canada Wednesday. Bryan Gast, the association’s vice president of investigative services, noted that re-vinning is increasing as a fraud trend. Other continuing trends include rising electronic auto theft across the country as more vehicles are equipped with technology like push button start, and high-end SUVs that continue to be stolen for export.

Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) investigative services division was transferred to Équité Association, a new company, in September. The association integrates IBC’s investigative services division with the Canadian National Insurance Crime Services (CANATICS).

Gast discussed the latest fraud trends in an interview Tuesday in advance of the release of the Top 10 stolen vehicles list in Canada. Regarding re-vinning, Gast said there are ways consumers can protect themselves.

For example, in Ontario, vehicle sellers legally need to provide a used vehicle information package that contains the vehicle and its history in the province. CARFAX also allows consumers to check VINs to ensure the vehicle history jives and to compare electronic records and hardcopies to “make sure that the hardcopy one hasn’t been manipulated,” Gast said. And the Canadian Police Information Centre’s website allows consumers to look up VINs to see if the vehicle is on file as stolen.

“You’ll really get double victimized when you’ve paid money for a vehicle, then you won’t get that money back,” Gast said. “And then once it’s determined to be a stolen vehicle, that vehicle is going to be seized, [so you’ll] be without your vehicle, too.”

Another trend is that high-end SUVs continue to be stolen for exports. While some vehicles are stolen to commit another crime or to be used to go for a “joyride,” many others are stolen by organized crime groups to be sold to unsuspecting consumers in Canada, exported or to be stripped down for parts that are then sold.

Rising electronic theft is another concern. Thieves can conduct ‘relay attacks’ by trying to intercept the radio frequency from the key fob to the vehicle and then program a new key fob to fit that car, Gast explained. To protect themselves, consumers shouldn’t leave fobs unprotected at the front entrance of their homes. They can place their key fob in a metal box or a bag pouch to limit or diminish the radio frequency emitted from the fob.

“There’s other electronic methods that we’re starting to see,” Gast added. “Probably more prevalent than [relay attacks] is the OBD port.”

This involves criminals breaking into the car’s onboard diagnostic system port and programming a key fob for the vehicle. “It’s something that’s definitely prevalent now.”

Regionally, there is a variation in the types of vehicles being stolen. For example, in Ontario and Quebec, SUVs are stolen more than other types of vehicle. In Alberta, pick-up trucks are stolen more often, likely due to work involving the oil and gas and construction industries.

But just because your client owns a vehicle that’s not on the Top 10 list of stolen vehicles in Canada, that doesn’t necessarily mean their vehicle is safe. “They still need to take the precautions because all vehicles can be stolen,” Gast said.

Here is the 2021 list of Top 10 stolen vehicles in Canada:

Feature image by