MAGNOLIA, Texas—A man says he found his dream vehicle on the Internet and has experienced nothing but nightmares ever since purchasing it last December.
“It’s very hard to sleep knowing you’ve wasted $7,500,” said Tom Stutz, while seated in the pickup truck that remains perpetually parked in the driveway of his Magnolia home.
“I can’t drive it anywhere because no one will let me register it,” Stutz said.
Stutz said he always wanted a red pickup truck, so when he saw one for sale on Craigslist he just couldn’t resist. After purchasing the vehicle, he was handed what looked like an original title, but when Stutz tried to get the truck registered, he ran into trouble.
“They told me they can’t give me tags or a new title because the vehicle had been junked,” he said.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, the truck received flood damage during Hurricane Ike, and was declared a total loss by the insurance company. The insurance company obtained a salvage title and sold the truck to a junk yard.
Somehow, the vehicle was resold with an original title by a company that advertised on Craigslist. Their advertisements vanished soon after the sale, Stutz said.
“And now I’m stuck and have no idea what to do,” he said.
Attorney Jason Gibson, with the Gibson Law Firm, is handling Stutz’s case. He’s also aware of other complaints from consumers who’ve been duped.
“At the root of it, it’s pure greed. It’s people trying to make a buck. They’re taking advantage of tragedies,” Gibson said.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau has a free on-line database where consumers can learn the history of vehicles before making a purchase.
A spokesperson with the Texas Department of Insurance said title fraud involving vehicles damaged during hurricanes Ike and Katrina has become a major problem, with hundreds of consumers making a purchase and receiving bogus titles.
Click here to visit the NICB database.