Thinking of buying? Watch out.

When I put a 26′ Argosy up on Craig’s List not too long ago, I was rather surprised by the scam warning – and by the advice to go cash only as even cashier’s checks can bounce (see nerdwallet). Sure enough, more than half the inquiries I got from the ad fit the Craig’s List warning profile. But that isn’t the half of it.

Steve Lehto, an attorney in Michigan, says on YouTube Don’t Drive While In Possession Of Cash!. His 18 minute video is about civil asset forfeiture. If you get stopped by a guy with a flashing light, gun, and uniform (law enforcement officer) for some reason or other and he sees you have a good chunk of cash, he can take your cash on the pretext that it was ill gotten gains. You have to sue to get it back and that can be time consuming and costly. As with a lot of things, the risk may be rather small but it needs attention. Lehto provides an explanation about why it should be a concern.

Most people have never heard of Civil Forfeiture and are unaware that the police can seize cash from you and claim that it is the product of a criminal enterprise. They do this, often with no evidence, and they get to keep the money! This problem is widespread and there is a simple solution. I explain the solution but I know that the politicians will not fix this problem because of the way they profit from it. — www.lehtoslaw.com

Is a cashier’s or certified check a risk? Here is what the FTC says:

However, just because funds are available on a check you’ve deposited doesn’t mean the check is good. It’s best not to rely on money from any type of check (cashier, business or personal check, or money order) unless you know and trust the person you’re dealing with or, better yet — until the bank confirms that the check has cleared. Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered and untangled. The bottom line is that until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check.

So what do you do? The FTC site has a list of ways to protect yourself and some other good information. 

OK. That’s the money side. How about the product side? Lehto has some good videos about purchasing used vehicles, warranties, and the various issues that can be encountered. 

Caveat Emptor! It pays to know what you are doing. A friend can help, especially one with the experience necessary to check for condition of the mechanical parts and who knows what is important and what is less so. A friend can also help balance out the emotional side of things, too. You also need to know values and that should come from the ‘blue book’ sources as well as from watching actual sales and examining advertisements and from web sites that provide value information that shows how condition, age, and features all impact price.

Then there’s the DMV. In Nevada, it used to be the big problem was just getting the owner’s signature in the right box on the back of the title. Now it’s a case of having to download forms from the DMV website and making sure they are all filled out properly. That Argosy was titled in the name of the family trust and that now requires a notarized trustee signature for a vehicle sale. Things are getting complicated. Take care.

 

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