Look, here’s why it’s very important for you to pay attention to how you’re getting a car title. If somebody is doing it for you, look into who you’re doing business with, but also if you’re buying a vehicle, make sure you’re checking the history not just on Carfax or VIN audit or any of these other sites that may not have complete information.
This is a perfect example of another big-time auto title scam. This is one out of Pennsylvania. We’ve seen dozens of these over the last 10-15 years and this is another big one. This is a business operation where there were 13 companies charged in a title washing ring. Well, what does title washing mean? Well, title washing is when you have a title that has a problem, there’s a lien on it, it’s salvage, it’s a parts-only, it’s some other type of problem title, or one that’s missing documents. And you file false paperwork in order to fix the problem.
Look, there are ways that are legitimate to fix title problems but a lot of times they take a long time, they might be expensive, and people don’t want to jump through all the hoops so they try to find a shortcut and you run into problems with title washing. Sometimes people do it accidentally, they don’t even know they’re doing something wrong and they find out accidentally.
What happened in this case? Let’s take a look. Well, 13 Pennsylvania businesses and 19 people are facing charges for title washing. They purchased totaled vehicles, falsified inspection information, and submitted fraudulent title applications to bypass rigid requirements. And this is what people do. Getting a title is taken very seriously by the DMV whether it’s a salvage vehicle or a normal vehicle, a clean title, or a lien title, getting a title is serious. It’s a legal government document. It certifies the ownership it certifies the status of the vehicle. So when you want to get a title, you have to make sure your paperwork is in order and if it’s not they’re going to run you through the wringer.
So what these companies were doing is they were falsifying title applications to try to make the process easier. Well, come to find out, it’s not that simple because they audit this stuff. In this case, they were totaled vehicles and the law says they have to be repaired and undergo an enhanced safety inspection to make sure they’re safe. The defendants allowed hundreds of heavily damaged vehicles onto roadways without even looking at them. They didn’t complete the safety inspections, they just filled out the paperwork, and they a lot of times they forged documents and forged signatures. They claim that they did 240 inspections, but they completed them using stock photographs and admitted never to completing an enhanced inspection.
Just because you have the authority as a repair shop a body shop or an automotive facility to do something doesn’t mean that just you signing the paperwork makes it right, and this goes for mechanics’ liens too. A lot of repair shops do fake mechanics liens to help people get titles. These things get audited. The DMV, or in this case Pennsylvania it’s called PennDot, they know that you as an automotive facility are given certain privileges to do certain paperwork to put titles through the system. But they also know that sometimes those privileges are abused and so they audit them. They know how to look for red flags. Does this company put through too many? Are the vehicles going through too quickly? They will also look at the percentages. How many are salvaged? How many have liens? Their algorithms on their computer will flag them and then they’ll do a manual audit, and that’s what happened in this case.
It’s not something that’s worth going to jail for. So do your paper. correctly, make sure if somebody else is doing paperwork for you that you know how it’s getting done. You review everything and have a title company explain to you in advance what is going on with your title. How is it going to be obtained? So you’re not accidentally doing something that might be a problem or get your title revoked or maybe even get you or somebody else into trouble.
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