Norcross Man Loses $10,000 after Unknowingly Buying a Stolen Cloned Vehicle

(Norcross, Georgia)  On July 25, a Norcross woman attempted to register a newly purchased 2016 Nissan Altima at the Gwinnett Tag office at 5030 Georgia Belle Court in Norcross.  The staff noticed that the title as fake and contacted the police.

The unknowing victim took officers to the vehicle at a home in Norcross.  The Motor Vehicle Theft Unit was notified.  It was determined that the vehicle was a “clone” and was impounded.  (A cloned vehicle is a vehicle that has had the original VIN either removed or covered up by a VIN belonging to a similar vehicle.  This is done to disguise the fact that the vehicle is likely stolen.)  The lead detective assigned to the case determined that the vehicle was previously stolen out of Miami, Florida.  The VIN displayed in the windshield (photo above) was not the true VIN. 

The victim said her father, who speaks little English, paid $10,000 dollars to a Hispanic male he met at a mechanic shop in Duluth.  The male was known as Gustavo Frias-Martinez (age 55, River Edge Lane, Monroe, GA).  The victim said he gave the money to Frias at his apartment in Norcross and Frias gave him the (fraudulent) title and the car. 

The lead detective obtained warrants for Frias for Theft by Receiving Stolen Property, Forgery (1st Degree), and Possession of a Stolen Vehicle with an Altered VIN against Frias.  Frias was booked into the Gwinnett County Jail on August 16.    

If anyone else has been victimized by Frias, please call 770 513-5300.

Advice from Sgt. Conlon with the Motor Vehicle Theft Unit:

  • Be sure the person you’re purchasing the car from is the person on the title (check ID)

  • Make sure the seller provides a Bill of Sale with the VIN and date of sale.  Be sure the seller and buyer sign the title in the correct lines on the back.

  • There are many advertisements on social media (Craigslist, Offer-up, Five-mile, Let-go, Facebook, etc.) where a dealer claims to be a private seller.  Car Fax ( is worth the investment.   Pay special attention to mileage and location where vehicle has been registered and/or is getting serviced.  Sometimes we find clones by noticing it was just serviced in California, and 500 miles later, it’s in Lawrenceville.  This should be a red flag.

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