Can I be legally charged for fraud regarding a car purchase or what steps should I use to prevent it?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I be legally charged for fraud regarding a car purchase or what steps should I use to prevent it?

I bought a car with lien from my friend’s friend under arrangements that the car will be paid off by the seller. I bought the car for $5000 the real value is $35,000 and agreed that once lien will be paid off by the seller I will pay the balance. The seller signed the title and I already transferred the car into my corporation’s name since the car is used for work. However, the seller disappeared and obviously, doesn’t want to pay for the loan. My company is doing badly and it cannot afford to pay for the lien balance nor I can afford to lienholder.So, I’ my corporation left out with a car that costs $35,000 which I bought for $5000 but with the lien on it. I’m afraid that the car can get repossed and, if it does, I don’t really care, it’s my fault. However, I afraid that the seller of the car who still responsible for lien can make up stories that the car was fraudulently sold or I bought it knowing that the lien is not going to get paid. Can me or my company get criminally charged for fraud or any other criminal case (e.g. fraudulent conveyance)? What should I do in this case to legally protect myself except for voluntarily giving up the car.

Asked on February 27, 2019 under Criminal Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Fraud is a knowing or intentional mistatement or lie made to cause someone to do something; a change in circumstances after the fact, like having unexpected financial problems that prevent you from paying is not fraud. So unless there is evidence that at the time you entered into the transaction, you knew or should have known based on the facts of which you were aware that the seller and/or your company could not or would not pay, you did not commit fraud (though certainly the car could be repossessed).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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