Tampering with odometer readings has been illegal since 1972 and further codified into law with by the Truth in Mileage Act of 1986, which requires a seller disclose the vehicle’s mileage when trasnferring ownership.
Odometer fraud is a federal crime in the United States, one the government takes very seriously. As recently as April 2021, two Texas men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false odometer statements and commit securities fraud.
The U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement saying the two men, 61-year-old Nepthali Luna and 36-year-old Devon Luna of San Antonio admitted to selling high mileage used vehicles with incorrect mileage readings on the vehicles’ odometers titles and odometer disclosure statements. Court filings show the younger Luna purchased high-mileage vehicles and then caused those vehicles to show false, lower mileage before selling them for inflated prices.
The Lunas admitted, according to the DOJ statement, to selling 225 vehicles with “rolled back” odometers resulting in consumer losses surpassing $550,000. Nepthali Luna faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while his son Devon faces 10 years for securities fraud and three years for making false odometer statements.
Traditional odometers worked mechanically and can be rolled back with mechanical tools. Signs of tampering were easier to spot: crooked numbers with uneven spacing were a dead giveaway the odometer was messed with. Many think modern digital odometers are more secure, however they can be tampered with just as if not more easily. Bad actors can easily purchase tools for modifying or falsifying digital odometer readings for roughly $100 online.
A consume who suspects odometer fraud should immediately notify their insurance company and, if they are financing their car, their finance company or bank. Soon after they should contact a qualified, licensed attorney to help pursue an odometer fraud case in court to recoup any losses.