What to do if I sold a truck and was paid with a stolen check?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What to do if I sold a truck and was paid with a stolen check?

I sold a pickup that I had since new; it was 19 years old. The buyer gave me a check that his uncle gave him out of a family Trust; it was for $20,000. My wife said that he didn’t get title until the check cleared. My bank told me that the check cleared and was in my checking account. I then came to find out that he stole the check from a man’s house. The DA where I live said I did everything by the law, however they were not coming after the money. Legally, can I spend that money to buy a new truck. I want to know should I go ahead and buy my new truck?

Asked on April 22, 2019 under Criminal Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot spend the money: it is not yours, since it was stolen from someone else, and if you spend another person's stolen money knowing (as you do) that it was stolen, YOU are committing a crime--and the person whose money it is can also sue you to get the money back.
What you can do is sue the buyer to get your truck back (or to get money for it): because he did not actually pay you with money to which you are entitled, he has no right to the truck.

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