Edmonton police make arrests in alleged vehicle cloning operation

Edmonton police say three people face charges in an alleged vehicle identification number cloning operation.

Police say they uncovered the scheme last week when they searched a home, where they say they found a stolen BMW and Mercedes, as well as cocaine, marijuana and cash.

Cloning involves using the VIN number from a legally registered vehicle to hide the identity of a stolen or salvaged vehicle, typically of the same make, model and year.

The stolen VINs are then used to create ownership documents to register or sell the stolen vehicle.

Lindy Belloc, who is 42, and Idrissa Diarra, who is 38, are charged with numerous counts of possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and uttering forged documents.

Alemar Villegas, who is 32, is charged with uttering a forged document.

"If you're purchasing a used vehicle, it's important to ask questions, especially when buying from a private seller," Det. Mark Kassian said in a news release. 

"Ask questions in relation to the vehicle's owner history. Ask to see original documentation and service records. Lastly, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Police say they also recovered two stolen 2014 Range Rovers — one of which was cloned — as well as two stolen and cloned 2016 Dodge Ram 1500s and a stolen 2015 Jeep Cherokee that were all linked to the operation.

Diarra was additionally charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.

Villegas also faces a charge of possession of a controlled substance.

Police say the total estimated value of the property recovered is about $400,000, and that further charges are pending as the investigation continues.

The Canadian Press

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