FRAUD ALERT – Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO)
Information Notice INFO20-024
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has observed an increase in the presentation of counterfeit MCOs by customers listing an out-of-state dealer. The counterfeit MCOs are created by either altering printed information on a genuine MCO or by creating a completely fictitious instrument utilizing a high-quality printer. Fraudsters are obtaining Florida titles with fraudulent MCOs primarily on newer high-end luxury vehicles and sports cars (i.e. Bentley, Land Rover, Mercedes SUV, Lexus SUV, Infiniti, Lincoln Navigator, Dodge Hellcat, etc.) to ostensibly further stolen vehicle trafficking schemes.
All MCOs must be approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ensure
their standards are met.
- MCOs presented by individual customers for high-end luxury motor vehicles and sports cars, purportedly listing an out-of-state dealer, should be highly scrutinized. Genuine certificate paper will contain watermarks which are uniform throughout the paper and read “VOID” when copied. There is also a security thread which runs the entire length of the paper with the same wording in a continuous line.
- Manufacturer insignias or logos should be centered at the top of the certificate.
- NHTSA required wording is pre-printed on the certificate and the required vehicle information is printed under each heading. The required wording will be in the same font with uniform spacing of the letters and the words, with no misspellings. The required vehicle information is
printed in black, in the same font, with uniform spacing of the letters and numbers, with no misspellings.
- The required statement “It is further certified that this was the first transfer of such new vehicle in ordinary trade and commerce.” is easily viewed and if the statement reads “is” instead of “was” this is a clear indication of a fraudulent MCO.
- The words “Sold To:” adjacent to the name of the receiving dealership should never appear on an MCO.
- The vehicle purchase order date and the date on the MCO should NOT match.
- The purchase price recorded on counterfeit MCOs is usually substantially below MSRP.
- Request the Bill of Sale to verify selling dealer, date, and purchase price.
- The vehicle is being titled without a lien.
Verifying an MCO
If you suspect the MCO is counterfeit, you should consider taking the following steps before rejecting the title application:
- Make a copy of all the documents presented and the customer’s driver license.
- Engage the customer in small talk regarding the vehicle. Where did they buy it? How much was the window sticker? How did they get such a good deal? How did it drive on the way back to Florida? Is it in the parking lot? Do the customer’s responses make sense?
- Google the out-of-state dealer’s name and address to confirm its location.
- Contact the out-of-state dealer to verify they had the motor vehicle in their possession and/or sold the vehicle to the dealer assigned on the back of the MCO. Provide them an image of the MCO the customer is presenting.
- If possible, inspect the motor vehicle VIN. Verify the information on the MCO matches the motor vehicle in question. Note how many miles are on the vehicle. Does it look new? Do the dealer insignias (i.e. stickers, license plate frame, etc.) on the vehicle match the dealer listed on the MCO?
Rejecting the Title Application
If you suspect the MCO is counterfeit, inform the customer the computer system has rejected the transaction and inform them the vehicle must be inspected at an FLHSMV Regional Motor Vehicle Office before it can be titled in Florida. Provide them with the phone number for the Regional Office.
Report the rejection to FLHSMV and provide the documentation you copied to the to the Motor Vehicle (MV) Fraud Unit at [email protected].
If you need additional information, please contact your next level of management or the DMV Fraud Unit at