We start the investigation of every Ohio autofraud claim by going to the above BMV website and inserting the vehicle identification number (VIN). We’re interested in seeing whether the seller has actually transferred title to the vehicle. The site will tell you the current title holder of the vehicle and also give you some general information on the transfer history of the vehicle since it has been in the state. Often the seller will fail to transfer title and retain ownership to the vehicle in spite of having agreed to sell it. Occasionally, the reason for this is that the seller doesn’t even have the title and, therefore, can’t transfer it. Obviously, no one should be able to sell something they don’t own. Regulations, however, give the seller some flexibility where frequently the money obtained from the consumer from the sale is used by the seller to payoff whatever is owed on the vehicle so the seller can obtain the title. Under Ohio law a seller must convey title to the buyer within 40 days. Failure to do so constitutes an unfair sales practice.

Other more sinister motives exist for failing to transfer title. For example, in spot delivery/yo-yo situations. Failure to transfer title can support a claim for unlawful repossession by the consumer when the vehicle was spot delivered and then repossessed if the seller is unable to sell the deal to a third party.

Ask Steve.