CLEVELAND - A warning from state investigators about the mileage on your car. Odometer rollbacks are thought to be an outdated crime, but it's still happening.
Michael and Kimberly Mankins were supposed to be sentenced Thursday for their roles in an odometer fraud scheme. But a judge delayed it until Tuesday so both sides could figure out restitution.
After just five years in business, the last person the owner of A&S Auto Sales wanted to see on his car lot was a state investigator.
"The detectives came and told us someone had been messing around with the odometers," said A&S Partner, George Anton Hanania.
A&S is one of 18 victims of local odometer fraud. The dealer bought a 2004 Chrysler Sebring 4-door Sedan at an auction. Anton Hanania said the low miles on the car were a key in deciding to purchase the vehicle.
"We first got the car it was supposed to have 79,000 actual miles," Anton Hanania said.
Hanania said he did $1800 worth of repairs before state investigators alerted him to the odometer rollback scheme run by Michael Mankins.
"Mankins was a greedy person and he knew how to roll back these odometers," said Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles investigator Michael Russo.
Russo said Mankins told his mechanics to roll back the odometers, while Mankins's wife, Kimberly, changed the paperwork.
The state said the paper trail shows the average rollback was 35,000 miles, but one car was turned back 100,000 miles. At sentencing, the State said more than 600,000 miles were rolled back in all.
"With a lower mileage they are able to obtain more money for the vehicle," Russo said.
We asked if consumers should be concerned about this? "Yes. Without a doubt," Russo said. But there are three things you can do to prevent this fraud from happening to you.
Do your homework
The state said consumers can spot this type of fraud by doing their homework. "A CARFAX report is a good indicator. It will point you in the right direction," Russo explained.
You can often get a report for free from the dealer selling the car. Sometimes you just have to ask.
CARFAX also allows you to check the odometer for free.
A CARFAX report is only as good as the information sources feeding it so don't rely on it alone. You should also have a mechanic inspect your car for wear and tear that seems abnormal for the mileage.
Also, check the state's title database to see the ownership and mileage history for the car in Ohio. These extra checks won't cost you more than $100. That's a small investment considering what you have to lose.
"Probably about $1,000," Anton Hanania said. "You can really get screwed."
Michael and Kimberly Mankins were supposed to have already been sentenced for their roles in these crimes. After some discussion, the judge delayed sentencing until Tuesday so both sides could figure out restitution.
The state estimated restitution for the odometer rollbacks was valued at more than $44,000. The defense is asking for probation so Mankins can repay the money and keep his business. Mankins's eight employees were at the hearing.
The defense is asking for a 10 year sentence for Michael Mankins, which the defense called outrageous. The husband and wife both apologized for their actions. Michael said he wants to start fresh and do the right thing.
The judge told him to be prepared to head to prison on Tuesday. He said he hasn't decided on a sentence for Kimberly Mankins yet, who played a lesser role in the scheme.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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