What to do if I bought an tablet from someone online that wasn’t reported lost or stolen at the time but later was so reported?

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What to do if I bought an tablet from someone online that wasn’t reported lost or stolen at the time but later was so reported?

I sold it to a cellphone company, and it still wasn’t lost or stolen. Later, someone had reported it lost or stolen. Now the company is threatening to call the cops in I don’t give them the money back for the tablet. I’ve already spent the money on bills and don’t have it to give to them. I’m afraid they will call the cops on me, but I don’t see what case they would have against me. Is there anything that can do legally in this situation?

Asked on October 3, 2014 under Criminal Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if you neither knew or had reason that you should have known (e.g. the tablet was bought for so much below market value that a reasonable person would have suspected it was stolen), but instead bought it in good faith, you are not liable for the fact it was stolen, and would not face either criminal liability (e.g. charges) or civil liability (have to give back the money). Of course, they may not believe you, and file a police report  and/or sue you. In those cases, you'd be well-served by having whatever evidence is available to show that you did not know this was stolen--e.g. evidence you paid a fair value for it; testimony from any other persons who could corroborate that you did not know the seller previously; etc.


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