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Civil Resource Manual

151. Repealed Odometer Fraud Statutes

The wording of the most commonly used Title 15 versions of the odometer tampering-related statutes is set forth below.

15 U.S.C. § 1981:


The Congress hereby finds that purchasers, when buying motor vehicles, rely heavily on the odometer reading as an index of the condition and value of such vehicle; that purchasers are entitled to rely on the odometer reading as an accurate reflection of the mileage actually traveled by the vehicle; that an accurate indication of the mileage traveled by a motor vehicle assists the purchaser in determining its safety and reliability; and that motor vehicles move in the current of interstate and foreign commerce or affect such commerce. It is therefore the purpose of this title to prohibit tampering with odometers on motor vehicles and to establish certain safeguards for the protection of purchasers with respect to the sale of motor vehicles having altered or reset odometers.

15 U.S.C. § 1982:


As used in this title-

(1) The term "dealer" means any person who has sold 5 or more motor vehicles in the past 12 months to purchasers who in good faith purchase such vehicles for purposes other than resale.

(2) The term "distributor" means any person who has sold 5 or more vehicles in the past 12 months for resale.

(3) The term "odometer" means an instrument for measuring and recording the actual distance a motor vehicle travels while in operation; but shall not include any auxiliary odometer designed to be reset by the operator of the motor vehicle for the purpose of recording mileage on trips.

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(5) The term "transfer" means to change ownership by purchase, gift, or any other means.

(6) The term "title" means the certificate of title or other document issued by the State indicating ownership.

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15 U.S.C. § 1984 [Section 404 of the Act]:


No person shall disconnect, reset, or alter or cause to be disconnected, reset, or altered, the odometer of any motor vehicle with intent to change the number of miles indicated thereon.

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15 U.S.C. § 1986:


No person shall conspire with any other person to violate section 403, 404, 405, 407, or 408.

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15 U.S.C. § 1988 [Section 408 of the Act]:


(a) Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall prescribe rules requiring any transferor to give the following written disclosure to the transferee in connection with the transfer of ownership of motor vehicle:

(1) Disclosure of the cumulative mileage registered on the odometer.
(2) Disclosure that the actual mileage is unknown, if the odometer reading is known to the transferor to be different from the number of miles the vehicle has actually traveled.

Such rules shall prescribe the manner in which information shall be disclosed under this section and in which such information shall be retained.

(b) No transferor shall violate any rule prescribed under this section or give a false statement to a transferee in making any disclosure required by such rule.

(c) No transferee who, for purpose of resale, acquires ownership of a motor vehicle shall accept any written disclosure required by any rule prescribed under this section if such disclosure is incomplete.

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15 U.S.C. § 1990(c):


(a) Any person who knowingly and willfully commits any act or causes to be done any act that violates any provision of this title or knowingly and willfully omits to do any act or causes to be omitted any act this required by any such provision shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(b) Any individual director, officer, or agent of a corporation who knowingly and willfully authorizes, order, or performs any of the acts or practices constituting in whole or in part a violation of any section of this title shall be subject to penalties under this section without regard to any penalties to which that corporation may be subject under subsection (a).

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[updated April 2009] [cited in JM 4-8.305]