July 30, 2001
The Consumer Protection Branch of the United States Department of
Justice, working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Virginia
Department of Motor Vehicles, has conducted an investigation in the
Maryland and Virginia areas involving the sale of used motor vehicles
with altered odometers. Criminal charges were filed against Ron Schichtman
and others as a result of the investigation in Federal District Court
in Alexandria, Virginia. On November 16, 2000, the indictment charging
the defendants was unsealed and made public. Unfortunately, Mr. Schichtman
has not yet been apprehended and is believed to have fled the country.
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/, under U.S. v.
The Victims Rights and Restitution Act of 1990 requires the government
to notify the victims and advise them of their rights and obligations
under the Federal law. Accordingly, you are hereby notified that you
may have been a victim of odometer fraud. Please complete and return
in the envelope provided the enclosed form entitled "Consumer Declaration."
If you fail to return this form, you will not be included in any possible
restitution order covering victim losses in this case.
Our investigation revealed that, from approximately 1994 to 1996, Ron
Schichtman purchased vehicles from the Harrisonburg Auto Auction and
the Belair Auto Auction, rolled back the odometers on the vehicles,
and then re-sold the vehicles within a few weeks or months after having
purchased them. Our investigation further revealed that you subsequently
purchased one of these rolled back vehicles. I have enclosed a copy
of an auction invoice showing the mileage of your car (the "high mileage")
when Ron Schichtman purchased it. The odometer was subsequently rolled
back and the car was eventually sold to you. Please bear in mind that
you may have purchased the vehicle from Schichtman (or someone working
with Schichtman), or from an entirely innocent third party who purchased
the vehicle from Schichtman and then later re-sold it to you without
knowledge of the rollback.
Federal law (49 U.S.C. § 32701 et seq.), prohibits the disconnection,
resetting, or alteration of a motor vehicle's odometer with the 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 law requires
a statement to that effect be furnished in written form to the buyer.
Violations of the above requirements also may 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. Section 32710 of
the law permits the buyer to bring a civil action in the State or Federal
court. You may do this by contacting your own private attorney or the
State Attorney General. Your State Attorney General has the authority
under 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. We strongly recommend
that you consult your own private attorney to determine your legal rights
and remedies in this matter. You will find an enclosed document titled
"Odometer Fraud – Civil Remedies for Victims" which may assist you.
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. If you have any further
questions, please read the enclosed document answering frequently asked
questions. We hope this information will be of use to you.