We work with government agencies quite a bit on investigations and vehicle title issues. Here’s a case from the Department of Justice (DOJ) where several individuals were caught engaging in vehicle title and odometer fraud in Chicago, Illinois. What happened was the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that these three people allegedly had a vehicle title fraud scheme that involved hundreds of used cars over the course of many years. And what’s the takeaway from this? Well, anytime you’re getting a vehicle title, if somebody else is doing it for you, make sure that you see the paperwork make sure that you understand what process is being used to get a vehicle title. If you just tell somebody to get you a title and it shows up in your name, you don’t know if the method was titled fraud that was used to get you your title. You want to be the one that sees and signs all the documents. You don’t want anybody forging your name because for many of these vehicles, hundreds of used cars over many years, these vehicle titles are going to get revoked.
So if you received the vehicle title through a method that was fraudulent, you’re at risk of that title being revoked. According to court documents, these three people allegedly altered vehicle title documents to reflect false low mileage and also reflect false scenarios of how that title was obtained. They’re charged with conspiracy to make counterfeit securities meaning titles. The vehicle title is considered a security because it is a legal government document. And these people are subject to years in prison for conspiracy. This type of fraud results in an estimated $1 billion annually, this type of fraud, not these particular people. And they even have a hotline for this type of fraud. This is the DOJ, this isn’t your local police department or your state police, this is the US DOJ that investigated this.
We see this quite a bit. We see a lot of attempts at obtaining a vehicle title using improper methods. You don’t want to use an improper method. There is almost always a legal good way to get a vehicle title for your vehicle. Almost always, unless you have a stolen car or a car that’s not supposed to get a vehicle title, then forget about it. But if you have a legitimate vehicle that’s clean, that doesn’t have any red flags on the title record, you can get a title if you do it the right way. A lot of times a client or actors like this allegedly want to use alternate methods because it seems a little easier. It seems like it’s some kind of a shortcut. It might be cheaper might be faster. You might not have to do as much work. But if it’s going to result in problems, in the long run, you want to avoid it. This scheme out of Illinois went on for two years. There are people that two years ago thought they were in the clear with their vehicle title and come to find out that now they could be at risk.
So make sure when you’re getting a vehicle title that you recognize that title is not just a piece of paper, you are signing documents that say that what you’re claiming is true and correct. And if you make false statements, just to try to get a title, it could result in serious problems. Again, we’re not attorneys, we’re not giving you legal advice. You know if you’re concerned about anything with a vehicle title you might want to get a qualified legal opinion from an automotive attorney or law enforcement, but keep in mind there’s always a good legitimate way to get a vehicle title. If you take a shortcut, at the very least it could result in aggravation, at the very most it could result in different types of serious legal liability.
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