Charlotte man faces charges for allegedly ‘cloning’ car

CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte man is facing felony charges for allegedly cloning a car.

Cloning is when you take a stolen or salvaged car, change its vehicle identification number (VIN) to make it harder to research the vehicle’s history then try to sell it to an unsuspecting buyer.

Agents with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles say they found out someone was selling a 2021 BMW on Facebook Marketplace. They say they posed as a buyer and messaged the seller.

According to the search warrant, they say they ran the car’s VIN and it did not exist, which is a common sign that a vehicle is cloned.

Investigators say the seller agreed to meet and that he suggested a Bank of America parking lot in northwest Charlotte. Undercover officers went and did a “buy/bust.”

Agents say the BMW turned out to be stolen and “re-vinned,” meaning someone had altered the VIN.

Officers arrested Tyvonni Purnell and charged him with possession of a stolen motor vehicle and altering serial numbers. Both are felony charges.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke offers this advice when you buy a car:

- Check the VIN plate on the dashboard to make sure it doesn’t look like someone tampered with it.

- Look for grammatical errors on any paperwork.

- Check the VIN on Carfax or NHTSA’s website. Both will tell you the year, make, and model the car should be. Carfax will also tell you the vehicle’s history.

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