Buyer beware: Fake inspection stickers in Louisiana

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTBS) - It's a growing threat to safety on the road. Bogus inspection stickers - that look real - and are almost impossible to spot.

In fact, drivers use them to dodge the inspection process to keep shoddy cars on the road. But what if a car is sold to you with a fake? Matt Keene and his family learned the hard way.

Matt Keene and his parents bought a van as a tool, meant for hauling. Keene's said they thought they had a deal. "For what they needed it for, it was awesome."

Keene said the van was purchased to move cleaning equipment. They spotted the van on the side of the road. Gave it a once-over, took it on a test drive and bought it. "It had good brakes. No noises," said Keene. And they gave it a test drive.

Matt Keene said at the time, his parents $3000 business investment made sense, until they took it to get inspected. It failed.

"Didn't have any issues with it, until they went to get it inspected," said Keene.

Quickly, their investment sunk into a money pit. The repair bill, his mother refused to pay.

"She looked into what it would cost to get it fixed and it was more than what the van was worth." said Keene.

Keene said checking the inspection sticker was the last thing on his mind.

"You know I'm looking for oil, I'm looking for if it's leaking fluid," mentioned Keene.

But the clue to the van's troubles was in plain view: the inspection sticker. Keene said it seemed legit.

"Look like a normal sticker. Look like the one on your car and on mine," said Keene.

But it's a fake. According to Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality, the Keene's van failed inspection 3 times. Once in 2013, 2014 and again in August of 2015, when the Keene's purchased it.

The van is now parked: out of commission.

"Not going to drive it with a failed inspection," Keene complained.

The Keene's, victims of a fake inspection sticker are hoping to get their money back. Matt hopes they find out who did it and is encouraging others, in the used car market, to do their homework.

"Yeah, try to get it inspected. Just to double check, you know." Keene added.

34 states have abolished vehicle inspection stickers.
A lawmaker has moved to end vehicle inspection stickers in Texas last month, but they are still mandatory in Louisiana.

Since 2013, Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality detected and confiscated over 200 fake inspection stickers statewide. The agency also busted three different inspection locations that were falsifying vehicle weights and vin numbers to pass emissions test for inspection stickers.

Consumer advocates advise, before you buy a used vehicle, take it to a state licensed inspection station. If the sticker is fake, call police and file a complaint.

People who buy the fake documents and try to pass them off as real also could be charged with forgery and/or a felony, regardless of whether the buyer is aware.

All vehicles in Louisiana are required to get a safety inspection at least every other year, but not more than twice a year. Your inspection sticker will have an expiration date showing when the next inspection will be required.

Creditable vehicle inspectors could be found here: http://www.dps.state.la.us/safetydirections.nsf/f3f91999370ccaed862574a20074b158?OpenView