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149.

Odometer Fraud Prosecutions -- Agencies, Contacts and Resources

Odometer fraud/motor vehicle titling fraud investigations often require careful coordination—both on a multi-jurisdiction level and on a federal-state level. Rarely do such crimes occur within the confines of one federal jurisdiction (particularly if the criminals' activities are of a magnitude warranting federal prosecution).

The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established an Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation to assist in the nationwide coordination and investigation of odometer fraud/altered securities investigations. NHTSA's Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation serves as a nationwide clearinghouse of information relating to odometer fraud investigations. The Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation also can provide investigatory assistance to agents who are conducting odometer fraud investigations. Contact should be made with the Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation through its Director or one of the regional agents. Contact information for the Director and staff is available at its Web site.

Many states have law enforcement agents or department of motor vehicle investigators who investigate odometer fraud activities. Contacting those agents or investigators during an investigation is strongly advisable. These state agents may already have an open file on the individuals who become targets in new investigations. Early contact and coordination with these agents not only will provide new investigatory leads, but also can prevent later conflicts at the state/federal level from arising (and therefore obviate Petite policy concerns).

State agents are usually familiar with state law requirements governing dealership licensing, motor vehicle titling, and document retention. This knowledge can prove invaluable during the course of an investigation. In addition, state agents tend to be intimately familiar with the motor vehicle documents needed in an odometer fraud/motor vehicle titling fraud investigation. Given that the investigations and prosecutions tend to require the accumulation of considerable documentation, obtaining the assistance of these agents is well-advised.

After consultation with NHTSA's Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation, OCL developed a series of forms and form letters that can be used in conducting an odometer fraud/altered securities investigation. These forms should prove helpful in tracking down the "paper side" of an odometer fraud/altered securities investigation. They also can assist in the actual prosecution, as they include sample search warrant affidavits, indictments, and sentencing guidelines analysis. OCL can be contacted at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch-home.

[updated November 2014] [cited in USAM 4-8.300]