FOX23 Investigates: Odometer fraud cases on the rise

TULSA, Okla. — FOX23′s Investigative Reporter Janna Clark learned odometer fraud is on the rise in Green Country.

FOX23 previously reported in 2021 that crooks were able to roll back odometers in cars, even in the digital age.

It’s a crime that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late, and it can cost drivers thousands of dollars. Odometer fraud is on the rise because rolling back a car’s odometer is easier than ever, according to Carfax.

Emilie Voss with Carfax spoke to Janna about the crime. She explained if crooks know what they’re doing, it is possible to turn back the clock. And suddenly that car with 150,000 miles has only 50,000.

“I think a lot of people don’t even know that digital odometers, especially these newer, late model vehicles can be rolled back,” Emilie said.

While in the past, Emilie explained crooks would need to spin physical dials to change mileage. Digital displays in most modern cars can be manipulated through the vehicle’s circuit board.

Janna asked about it on her Facebook page, and people seemed surprised about the crime.

“That’s still happening?” Danny commented.

Jessie added, “Is that even possible with new cars?”

“I didn’t think the digital ones could be rolled back,” Cindy said.

Even though the commenters didn’t want to go on camera, a couple people told Janna on Facebook about their experiences.

Carol said she bought a used car.

“A minivan,” she said. “It was rolled back [10,000 miles].”

Linda said she had a similar experience.

“We went to a local dealership. We drove a van and looked under the hood and saw an oil change sticker for 50,000 more miles than it showed,” Linda said. “Busted! Terrible. Just terrible to mislead customers.”

“Odometer fraud is very scary,” Emilie added. “It’s not something where there’s a single, telltale sign that you can just look at the vehicle and tell that is has a rolled back odometer. And it can cost you thousands and thousands of dollars. Not to the mention the headache and heartache.”

Janna looked up the value on two cars, nearly identical, except for mileage. One was 150,000 miles, and the other was just 50,000. The difference in price is more than 6,000 miles.

To protect yourself, you can get a vehicle history to start. It can reveal if there were sudden drops in mileage over the course of the vehicle’s life. Additionally, an independent inspection can also reveal that the vehicle systems have more wear and tear than the odometer indicates. These moves might cost you a little more up front, but they could save you thousands on the back-end.

Janna did some checking on rolled back odometers in Oklahoma. According to Carfax estimates, there were more than 12,000 reports of odometer fraud statewide and nearly 4,300 in Tulsa alone.