By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – For the past 13 years the State of Colorado has issued temporary license plates that were made of paper and posted on back windows of newly purchased vehicles, but a CBS4 investigation found temporary tag fraud is widespread.

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In 2012 security patrolman Kris Besler showed CBS4 a collection of temporary tags he had made from towed cars.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“Here, this is just a photo copy and they put a piece of window tint over it so it kind of looks like a hologram if you look real quick,” he said when showing CBS4’s Rick Sallinger a counterfeit tag.

Real tags have genuine holograms with the State of Colorado seal.

“We found the same one on different cars,” Besler said, adding a person was apparently selling them. “Same number, same tag.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Examining a temporary plate inside a tinted window is not easy. CBS4 found one that had a fake hologram made out of chewing gum foil. Another one was probably made with a copying machine. A person who claimed to own a car was approached by CBS4’s Rick Sallinger, who asked, “Is this a real one?”

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“I think so, yes,” the man replied, and then covered the camera lens with his hands.

Now the state is scrapping the long used paper tags in back windows.

Lynn Granger, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Revenue told CBS4, “I think it’s a community safety issue, public safety, and we’ll also give our law enforcement officials better awareness of the document as well.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The new temporary plates will have the vehicle identification number (VIN), the color, make and body of the vehicle and can be entered into a new computer system. It will be placed where the permanent license plate now sits.

It’s hoped the new tags will put the counterfeiters out of business.

The pilot program for the new temporary plates begins in May with full implementation by the end of Jun 2016.

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CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.