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When and How to Sue?
Old 05-06-2019, 08:22 PM   #1
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When and How to Sue?

A sincere question.

Theoretical situation.
You buy a car from an individual. You've checked it out, and you are satisfied with the price @ $25,000. You pay the individual and he promises to deliver the car to you that day. When you receive the car, it has been in an accident in effect, making the actual value $1000.

What do you do? Not as simple as you might think. Looking for the best advice for a situation similar to this... Do you know about small claims? How much would a lawyer cost? How much would you recover...

Forget the "car" situation... you've been scammed for $25,000 in some way... What's the best legal approach? What can you reasonably expect to recover?
NET!

How would you proceed?
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Old 05-06-2019, 08:29 PM   #2
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Most scammers are long gone and you’ll never find them to deal with them. You can’t use small claims court for that large of an amount. I think small claim is about $5K and you still have to get blood out of a turnip. You can win in court and never get your money. Other problem is that this is a criminal matter so you have to go through the legal system. Good luck with that. Hire a lawyer for a civil case? Legal fees will make that course of action not worth it.

Best course in a scam is not to get scammed at all. If you do, you’re out of luck.
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Old 05-06-2019, 10:32 PM   #3
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I presume that you didn't pay by check that you could stop payment on or credit card that you can dispute the charge. I seem to recall reading somewhere that even fradulent wires can be clawed back but the timeframe is really short.

If a scam, I would start with your state's comsumer protection bureau or attorney general's office.
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Old 05-06-2019, 10:40 PM   #4
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Tell your insurance company and let them deal with it.
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:40 AM   #5
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BIL bought a used car for his DS on Craigslist.

After six months 'owning' it, it turned out it was a stolen car that he bought! No recourse.

In your example, I'd get a lawyer asap especially with $25K on the line.
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:47 AM   #6
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Hmmm - I would try really hard to avoid being scammed in the first place which means I would only purchase through well vetted channels, but still with my eyes open. Sure, I might miss out on a great deal, but I want recourse.

Why would I pay in full for the car yet accept later delivery by an individual?
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:18 AM   #7
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imoldernu,
Given your other post about wanting a new car, please tell me that your theoretical example is just that, theoretical. I’d really hate to think this happened to you.
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:40 AM   #8
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Don't pay before you receive it, and have a lawyer involved from the beginning if you are remotely concerned.

Or better yet, buy from a dealer, not an individual.

If this all has already happened, get a lawyer now, and call your bank as soon as you read this.
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:47 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marko View Post
BIL bought a used car for his DS on Craigslist.

After six months 'owning' it, it turned out it was a stolen car that he bought! No recourse.

In your example, I'd get a lawyer asap especially with $25K on the line.
Interesting scenario

So, was the title forged?

Isn't it common to receive the paper title with the old owners name at the time the money changes hands when purchasing a car?

Did they do the transaction at a DMV office and if so, wouldn't the DMV catch a forgery if it doesn't compare to what is in their computers?

-gauss
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:23 AM   #10
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Not about vehicles but rather addressing your question about the small claims court process, I've had 2 judgments against individuals and 1 against a small contractor's business. I received no satisfaction from any of them.

The first individual had no readily liquid assets. His only substantiated income was Social Security Disability, which cannot be garnished or attached in any way. He died and I never saw a dime of the $9k (IIRC) that he owed me. In addition to not seeing any of the money owed, I was out $400 in court costs plus my time and aggravation. I did take some perverse pleasure in printing his mug shot for his arrest trying to sell narcotic pain pills and handing that flier out throughout his neighborhood.

Second case was a couple renting a home from me. Took forever to have them legally evicted. I filed suit for the back rent and damage to the home. The judge kept making me jump through hoops every time the defendants chose not to show up to court. He always wanted to give them one more chance. After the third round I was awarded my judgment. As transient as they apparently were, jumping through the extra hoops and paying the court costs that go along with that to garnish the wages didn't seem worth it. Just to get a defendant served runs $50-$100 depending on the work the process server has to do. I'm hoping that it shows up on their credit histories, but I don't know.

Last case was a contractor who concealed his shoddy work. Shortly after paying him for the completed job the deficiencies became evident. Another suit that I won after two trips to court and a $400 filing fee. I never saw a dime of that but I took pleasure in making shirts that I wore into all of the businesses in our small town that read "Mike Pellitier Owes Me $5000" With that was his mugshot for illegal dumping. He died, his business ceased and I got not a dime from him.

I see small claims court as mostly being a dog without teeth.
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gauss View Post
Interesting scenario

So, was the title forged?

Isn't it common to receive the paper title with the old owners name at the time the money changes hands when purchasing a car?

Did they do the transaction at a DMV office and if so, wouldn't the DMV catch a forgery if it doesn't compare to what is in their computers?

-gauss
I forget how it was done but I seem to recall the title was for another, identical car. No one ever checks the actual VIN
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:43 AM   #12
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It was theoretical... (didn't happen to me) The assumption was that it had happened.
I wasn't asking how to avoid the problem. The advice of "BE Careful" ... yes, of course... but If it happened...
It happens every day, even to people who aren't stupid.

The real question was meant to infer that a transaction of that value had taken place.had taken place.
Jerry1's answer about not being worth getting a lawyer was the problem I was looking for help on.
Yes small claims court (most states) usually limits claims to $5K to $10K.

I didn't know that insurance companies paid off when a customer is scammed. Is that right?

I guess it boils down to what a lawyer would charge to sue? $10, $100, $1000, $5000... or more?

What if the amount was $50,000... paid to a corporation to invest in the stock market. What if the company claimed they didn't receive your money?
or, perhaps you paid $15,000 to a contractor as a partial, upfront payment for materials to build your new swimming pool, and he reneged, delayed construction or claimed bankruptcy.

You create the scenario... To make it more real, try $100,000, and an expected lawyer's fee of 15%.

So... the question was not how to avoid the situation, but what to do to recover the loss that has happened.
As I get older, dealing with out of the ordinary money situations like automatic renewal of autopay contracts for subscriptions or services... are becoming more difficult. Small print is getting smaller (5point on a 12 page Tracfone contract.)

Being "Careful" is becoming a full time job.
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
firemediceric;2233434]Not about vehicles but rather addressing your question about the small claims court process, I've had 2 judgments against individuals and 1 against a small contractor's business. I received no satisfaction from any of them. .................................................. .....
Thank you... You put my theoretical thoughts into reality... (we were posting at the same time...) An excellent real life case. In fact I may be facing a situation that parallels the same kind of problems. So far, the only action I have taken has been to file complaints with the Attorney Generals of the states where the company with which I have the problem, has physical operations. Not very confident about any help, but "better to light one candle...".
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:05 AM   #14
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Besides suit consider the collections process. Not being able to get blood from a stone is never truer.
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:07 AM   #15
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Not worth the time going through this theory....


Each case if different and calls for a different response... all the details matter but you do not want to be specific enough....


In general, you are out of luck... in theory you are not...
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:15 AM   #16
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Not worth the time going through this theory....


Each case if different and calls for a different response... all the details matter but you do not want to be specific enough....


In general, you are out of luck... in theory you are not...
Thoughtful post.

For a more detailed situation explanation, try this:

https://www.bna.com/metlife-brightho...-n73014476623/

The case is still under negotiation.

Now, whaddya think?
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Old 05-07-2019, 09:28 AM   #17
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Keep things like this in mind when you sell/buy a house and one party wants to do a rent back.
The seller in our most recent RE transaction wanted to rent back for a month. We didn't want anything to do with having someone live in a house we owned. We bought a house, not a temporary rental.
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Old 05-07-2019, 09:39 AM   #18
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Keep things like this in mind when you sell/buy a house and one party wants to do a rent back.
The seller in our most recent RE transaction wanted to rent back for a month. We didn't want anything to do with having someone live in a house we owned. We bought a house, not a temporary rental.
+1

We did rent our home back for a couple months. Easy transaction the buyers would come over to visit with us, no problems. Until we moved our washer out and the hot water was leaking when the hose was disconnected. Oh my, screaming threats of lawsuits. It probably needed a 50 cent washer.
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Old 05-07-2019, 09:48 AM   #19
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Small claims court...ah yes. DW's family owns a couple of apartment complexes and has been in and out of small claims court a LOT. Last year alone, they had 17 judgements and so far only TWO have paid the judgement. So, odds of success are pretty slim.

As far as how much it would cost to sue someone...well, there are just too many variables to come up with a good number. Some cases might be taken on contingency (probably nothing in the small court arena, though) and others...well, I would think recovery would be pennies on the dollar unless you could rack up some good damages, which isn't very easy most of the time.
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Old 05-07-2019, 09:56 AM   #20
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Small claims court...ah yes. DW's family owns a couple of apartment complexes and has been in and out of small claims court a LOT. Last year alone, they had 17 judgements and so far only TWO have paid the judgement. So, odds of success are pretty slim.

As far as how much it would cost to sue someone...well, there are just too many variables to come up with a good number. Some cases might be taken on contingency (probably nothing in the small court arena, though) and others...well, I would think recovery would be pennies on the dollar unless you could rack up some good damages, which isn't very easy most of the time.
I've been to small claims twice. The court asked if we would go to arbitration instead. We said yes to both cases and had a check in hand leaving the court house that day. So if you are open to arbitration, the settlement is done then and there.
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