Been looking at a lot of fake automobile titles lately. The first couple fake titles I saw made me wonder, Why would anyone accept a title that looked as fake as that? But I know what fake titles look like because I’ve seen hundreds of them and looked at them under magnification. It also helps that I used to be a photographer and worked in the publishing business, so I know what high-quality printing looks like.

Here’s a good rule of thumb for spotting a fake car title: It should look and feel like a fairly new twenty-dollar bill. If it’s filthy or covered in coffee stains, if it’s badly worn, if it’s faded, if it seems to be printed on card paper, ask the owners to go to the DMV with you to get a replacement title. Tell them you’ll pay for it; they don’t cost much. If they won’t do it, look for another car, no matter how good a deal you think you’re getting.

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