September 19, 2001
Re: Criminal Case No. 99-CR 996 (E.D.N.Y.)
The United States Department of Justice, the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, and the New York City Police Department have
concluded an investigation in the New York area involving the sale of
used motor vehicles with altered odometers. As a result of the investigation,
in September 2000, Daniel Menake pled guilty in federal district court
in Brooklyn, New York, to a five-count Information charging him with
conspiracy to commit odometer fraud and various related offenses, giving
false odometer statements, and interstate transportation of falsely
made, forged, altered and counterfeit securities – namely, certificates
of title relating to certain motor vehicles. The defendant also pled
guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendant's
convictions were based on his role in a fraudulent scheme to misrepresent
the mileage of vehicles to consumers.
On January 14, 2001, Daniel Menake was sentenced by the Honorable Sterling
Johnson, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New
York. The judge sentenced the defendant to twelve months and one day
imprisonment. He also sentenced him to a three-year period of supervised
release. Mr. Menake was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of
$24,000 to the owners of six specific rolled-back vehicles. The judge
found that 477 vehicles had been subjected to odometer tampering as
a result of the defendant's criminal course of conduct. The case was
under seal until August 24, 2001.
According to our records, you are the owner of the vehicle identified
above. Federal law requires us to notify you that you may have been
a victim of odometer fraud involving that vehicle. The investigation
revealed that the vehicle had at least [high mileage] prior to
the date you became the owner. If you purchased this vehicle without
knowledge that the odometer had been altered, you may be entitled to
certain legal remedies. The Federal odometer law, Title 49, United States
Code, sections 32701-32711 (formerly the Motor Vehicle Information and
Cost Savings Act, Title 15, United States Code, sections 1981-1991)
prohibits the disconnection, resetting, or alteration of a motor vehicle's
odometer with intent to change the number of miles indicated thereon.
The law requires that a written disclosure of the mileage registered
on an odometer be provided by the seller to the purchaser at the time
ownership of a vehicle is transferred. If the odometer mileage is incorrect,
the Act requires a statement to that effect to be furnished in written
form to the buyer.
At the defendant's sentencing, the judge ordered the defendant to forfeit
$75,000 to the United States. The criminal forfeiture awarded by the
Court may be available as restitution for victims in this case. You
may file a petition to recover some or all of your financial losses
out of the forfeiture. If you wish to be considered for restitution,
please complete the enclosed form and return it to the address noted.
Please ensure that the completed petition contains all pertinent information
and return it as soon as possible, but no later than October 22,
2001. Please be advised that it is unlikely that you will be compensated
in full for your losses. The amount that you receive will depend on
the number of victims who submit claims and other factors. This office
cannot guarantee that any particular amount of restitution, or any restitution
at all, will be awarded to you.
Violations of any of federal odometer laws may also subject the violator
to civil liability if it is determined that the violator's actions were
intended to defraud the purchaser. The law makes available to the buyer
a remedy in the amount of $1,500 or treble damages, whichever is greater,
together with attorney's fees. To obtain this remedy, 49 U.S.C. § 32710
permits the buyer to bring a civil action in State or Federal court.
You may do this by contacting your own attorney or the State Attorney
General. Your State Attorney General has the authority under the federal
law to bring an action on your behalf and can also advise you regarding
applicable state laws. The Federal Government has the authority to bring
actions for civil and criminal penalties; however, it cannot bring actions
on behalf of consumers. You may wish to consult your own private attorney
to determine your legal rights are and what steps you may take if you
wish to seek recourse for any losses you may have sustained. You will
find enclosed a document titled "Odometer Fraud - Civil Remedies for
Victims" which may assist you.
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles is required to amend the
title to the vehicle by reissuing a new one, with the statement "Not
the Actual Mileage" clearly visible. For your protection and the protection
of others, we ask that you return your current title to the Department
of Motor Vehicles using the postage pre-paid envelope enclosed.
You should attach a copy of this letter to your title, which is no
longer valid, and a new title will be mailed to you. You may not transfer
ownership of the vehicle with the title you currently have. In addition,
you should be aware that should you sell this vehicle without notifying
the purchaser that the odometer does not reflect the actual mileage,
you may incur liability.
Further information on this case may be accessed under "Cases" on the
Office of Consumer of Litigation portion of the United States Department
of Justice website, www.usdoj.gov/civil/CPB/cases/menake.htm. If you
need any additional information, please write to: Paralegal Specialist,
Consumer Protection Branch, United States Department of Justice,
P.O. Box 386, Washington, D.C. 20044, Attention: Bayside Auto Sales.
You should include a copy of this letter or the vehicle identification
number of your vehicle in your correspondence.
We hope this information will be of use to you.
Odometer Fraud -- Civil Remedies for Victims
Petition for Remission
NY Department of Motor Vehicle envelope