Odometer Fraud Cheats Car Buyers
Odometer Fraud is not a problem of yesterday it still occurs more often than you think. In 2002, National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined more than 450,000 vehicles to be sold each year with false odometer readings, milking American car buyers out of more than $1 billion annually. – Source National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.
So that shiny, freshly detailed, never been in a wreck, gotta buy it today, new to you, low mileage, late model used car or truck may be your worst nightmare if the odometer has been tampered with.
Federal and Florida Laws are in place to protect you from this crime. It is a Felony for anyone to knowingly tamper with, adjust, alter, set back, disconnect, or fail to connect an odometer of a motor vehicle, so as to reflect a lower mileage than the motor vehicle has actually been driven, or to supply any written odometer statement knowing such statement to be false or based on mileage figures reflected by an odometer that has been tampered with or altered.
When the above law is violated, title fraud and grand theft, both felonies, are also added to the list of arrest charges against the violator. The three Felonies each carry a fine as much as $5,000.00 and/or five years in a state prison or both such fine or imprisonment.
One approach to showing consumer loss is to look at the types of actual expenses a consumer pays as a direct result of this type of fraud. A typical rollback in a scheme is 40,000 to 45,000 miles. The impact of such a rollback on the wholesale price of the vehicle alone exceeds $4,000.00. Obviously, retail prices increase even more than wholesale. (The effect on wholesale values of used cars of a 40,000 mile rollback, is between $3,400 to $4,000, depending upon the type of car involved and the date of the rollback.)
Maintenance Cost: Increased maintenance costs are not always reflected in purchase price considerations, as some owners have vehicles that are virtually worthless as the result of the rollback.
Lost Time: Buyers of high mileage vehicles frequently spend considerable time dealing with unexpected maintenance –often time is lost from work when a car is the person’s method of transportation to his or her employment.
Taxes: The sales tax imposed on the amount of the purchase price attributable to the rollback, and property taxes imposed based on the falsely inflated purchase price.
Finance Charges: The cost of financing the portion of a vehicle’s cost that stems from the rollback.
Insurance Cost: Unnecessary insurance carried due to a false belief that a vehicle is low mileage.
Vehicle Safety: Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, rolling back a car’s odometer directly affects the safety of the car. (Wear and tear on the engine and suspension system of the vehicle)
When viewed in light of all of these factors, some of which (e.g.,property taxed and insurance costs) are recurring, it is apparent that an extremely conservative estimate of the average loss per vehicle caused by an odometer fraud scheme would be, at minimum, $4,000.00.
BEFORE you buy a vehicle, look for signs of wear on the brake and gas pedal pads, or the recent replacement of the pads. Look for loose screws around the dashboard, observe the wear and tear on seats, or notice new seat cover installation. Cars with low mileage probably will not have these problems in wear. If the car has less than 20,000 miles, it should not have a replacement set of tires. And if the speedometer cable makes a clicking sound, leave it alone. Ask for maintenance records of the vehicle and the original owners manual for the vehicle. Don’t ever fall in love with a hunk of metal; your emotions may override your reason or intuitions. When you consider buying a vehicle, you should take it to a good mechanic and have him compare the mileage recorded against the overall wear and tear on the vehicle. This would be money well spent. If the seller makes a statement about the care, maintenance, prior use or the integrity of the vehicle, get the statement in writing signed by the seller and you.
If you have information on any operation or incident where this criminal act is being committed or of individuals involved in this crime, PLEASE contact your Florida Highway Patrol at the address listed below. You may remain anonymous with your information and be kept confidential.
Source: Florida Highway Patrol Bureau of Investigations – Odometer Fraud
Neil Kirkman Building, Room B472 2900 Apalachee Parkway Tallahassee, FL 32399-0552
Click here for a link to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Odometer Fraud Fact Sheet.