What Is Odometer Tampering?
A common type of scheme in the car sales industry is odometer tampering. Odometer tampering involves rolling the mileage on a car back. A car with fewer miles on it is worth more than one with high mileage and can be sold to a buyer for more money. If a buyer is assured that the bright red roadster has only 15,0000 miles on it she might be willing to pay more for it than if it had 115,000 miles on it. The consumer would not have paid as much for the car or may not have bought the car at all if she had known the true facts. The car buyer has been deceived, she acted on the fraudulent information and she has been damaged by overpaying for the vehicle. She has been defrauded.
The problem of odometer tampering is so significant that the Federal government undertook a study of the issue a few years ago. The study was performed by the NHTSA, which concluded that there are around 240,000 cases of tampering a year in the United States. There are laws at the federal and state level that prohibit odometer tampering.
Often the vehicles that are tampered with are late model cars that have amassed a lot of miles in a short period of time. A three-year-old vehicle with 80,000 might have its mileage rolled back to 30,000 miles and be sold as a low mileage car. The consumer thinks they have found a vehicle that has very little wear and tear on it that will be reliable well into the future. The reality is that the vehicle may be more prone to breakdowns, will need repairs and maintenance soon, and has a lower value than the buyer thought.
A consumer who has been defrauded through odometer tampering can sue the dealership and if the case is proven can collect damages from the wrongdoer.
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