Odometer fraud is the criminal act of tampering with the odometer of a vehicle to falsely represent the true mileage of the vehicle. Used car salesmen, mechanics, and individual sellers may commit odometer fraud in an attempt to falsely increase the value of the car and defraud the buyer. Especially during tough economic times, sellers may resort to criminal measures to increase the probability of selling the car and profiting from it. Unfortunately for the offenders, however, discovery of odometer fraud often leads to a combination of serious charges and severe penalties if convicted.
Odometer Fraud, Title Fraud, and Grand Theft
Typically when a person goes through the trouble of turning back an odometer, he or she is not doing it simply for his or her own benefit. The ultimate goal is usually to make the car appear more attractive to prospective buyers and to effectively steal money by charging more for the used car than it is worth. If a person is charged with odometer fraud, he or she will likely also be charged with title fraud and grand theft, which include:
Title fraud: The total mileage of the car recorded on the title is altered so that the buyer or an investigator does not suspect that the odometer has been adjusted
Grand theft: If the amount defrauded from the buyer is calculated to be $300 or more, an offender will be charged with grand theft
All three of these offenses are classified, at minimum, as a third-degree felony in the state of Florida. Not only will a convict be listed as a felon, but he or she will also face severe prison sentences and heavy fines, including the following for each third-degree felony conviction:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Restitution payments to fraud and theft victims
This means that even a single round of convictions for odometer fraud, title fraud, and grand theft could result in up to 15 years in prison, $15,000 in fines, and thousands of dollars worth of restitution payments to the victims. In addition, a conviction can devastate an offender’s personal and professional life and have lasting consequences for years. A single arrest and conviction can make it extremely difficult to apply for school, secure a loan, apply for or keep a job, find a place to live, and more.