Google Answers Logo
View Question
 
Q: Deception Offense in PA ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Question  
Subject: Deception Offense in PA
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: kenny8422-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 21 Oct 2006 18:36 PDT
Expires: 20 Nov 2006 17:36 PST
Question ID: 775698
About a year ago I formed a verbal contract with a man to fix my 2005
Chevy Silverado that I crashed.  He determined that the damage was
somewhere between $5,000 and $7,000.  I agreed to pay for the parts
and then the labor when the job was done since this was not covered by
insurance.  I have already paid him $4,500.  I was originally told
that my truck would be fixed sometime around April this year and since
been told it would be done about 10 different times.  I went to PA to
talk to him and see my truck since he is just about impossible to get
in touch with(I am in the United States Navy and currently stationed
in Norfolk, VA).  I found out then that the address that I was sending
my money to was an empty lot in the development that he lives in.  His
house is actually in the front of the developement were as the emptly
lot is in the back.  I only found the house because a friend of my
cousin new him and where he lived.  I was still unable to see my truck
because he said he didn't have time to show it to me.  I got in
writing that day that my truck would be finished by the following
wednesday.  Later I noticed that he put the wrong date on the paper he
wrote this on and signed.  My father was there as a witness to this. 
I took the DOT # off his towtruck and entered it in the DOT database
on line and the DOT # is not even registered to any business at all. 
What, if any offense do I have to take him to court and get my truck
or money for repair and truck back?
Answer  
Subject: Re: Deception Offense in PA
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 21 Oct 2006 20:24 PDT
 
Dear kenny8422-ga;

Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. I must
first point out our disclaimer (see bottom of this page) which says
that our answers here are not intended to substitute for informed
professional legal advice and one?s best course of action is to
consult an attorney for such information. With that necessary caveat
out of the way let me tell you what some published law is one the
matter:

Let me begin by saying that short of taking the police to the man?s
house and having them assist you in obtaining your vehicle you will
likely have to resort to either civil, small claims or criminal court
to retrieve your vehicle AND your money unless the man simply agrees
to do it. If it comes to that, one option is to pursue the matter in
small claims court citing the Pennsylvania?s "Unfair Trade Practices
and Consumer Protection Law."

UNCONSOLIDATED PENNSYLVANIA STATUTES
TRADE AND COMMERCE (TITLE 73)
http://members.aol.com/StatutesP8/73.Cp.1.html

Some of the specific issues (but there are many) mentioned in this
statute which may be pertinent to your situation are:

-- Causing likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the
source, sponsorship, approval or certification of goods or services;
-- Causing likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to
affiliation, connection or association with, or certification by,
another;
-- Using deceptive representations or designations of geographic
origin in connection with goods or services;
-- Representing that goods or services have sponsorship, approval,
characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities that they
do not have or that a person has a sponsorship, approval, status,
affiliation or connection that he does not have;
-- Representing that goods or services are of a particular standard,
quality or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model, if
they are of another;
-- Failing to comply with the terms of any written guarantee or
warranty given to the buyer at, prior to or after a contract for the
purchase of goods or services is made;
-- Knowingly misrepresenting that services, replacements or repairs
are needed if they are not needed;

Since the man who promised to make the repairs ?may? be acting in a
criminal manner (is not licensed, is not registered, has not returned
your vehicle or allowed you access to it, etc), it may be that you are
not legally bound to a contract (verbal or written) if the contract
was solidified on a fraudulent basis. If that is the case you might
consider pursuing the matter from a criminal standpoint. This will
require you to involve the assistance of local law enforcement
authorities. The specific issues here may be related to these relevant
Pennsylvania criminal statutes. If you are successful in prosecuting
the man for one of more of these offenses you may be entitled to be
released from your contract, regain your vehicle and you are also
potentially subject to receive monetary restitution for any damages or
losses incurred:

 3921. Theft by unlawful taking or disposition.
A person is guilty of theft if he unlawfully takes, or exercises
unlawful control over, movable property of another with intent to
deprive him thereof.
http://members.aol.com/StatutesP3/18PA3921.html

 3922. Theft by deception.
A person is guilty of theft if he intentionally obtains or withholds
property of another by deception. A person deceives if he
intentionally:

-- creates or reinforces a false impression, including false
impressions as to law, value, intention or other state of mind; but
deception as to a person's intention to perform a promise shall not be
inferred from the fact alone that he did not subsequently perform the
promise;
-- prevents another from acquiring information which would affect his
judgment of a transaction; or
-- fails to correct a false impression which the deceiver previously
created or reinforced, or which the deceiver knows to be influencing
another to whom he stands in a fiduciary or confidential relationship.
http://members.aol.com/StatutesP3/18PA3922.html

As it turns out, ?deceptive business practices? also happens to be a
criminally prosecutable offense in Pennsylvania. Below is only a
PARTIAL quote from the lengthy statute:

 4107. Deceptive or fraudulent business practices.
(a)Offense defined.--A person commits an offense if, in the course of business, he:
-- sells, offers or exposes for sale, or delivers less than the
represented quantity of any commodity or service;
-- makes a false or misleading written statement for the purpose of
obtaining property or credit;
http://members.aol.com/StatutesP4/18PA4107.html

With this information in mind I would suggest that a fellow who does
not make himself available to his customers, does not honor contracts,
has not repaired or produced your vehicle in more than 10 months and
appears to be operating illegally where licensure, DOT falsification
and other issues are concerned is most assuredly subject to reasonable
suspicion. I recommend that you consult an attorney if possible but
I?ll also suggest that it is most likely urgent that you also consult
the local authorities (Police, Penn DOT, etc). ?Chop-shops? and
vehicle thieves are notorious for using false addresses, misleading
?contracts? and empty promises. I could be wrong but based on your
description of events and my 20+ years in law enforcement I am led to
believe that this situation has all the typical earmarks of just such
a scam. At the risk of seeming like an alarmist it is possible that
this man has no intention of repairing OR producing your vehicle at
all and in fact may already disposed of it through criminal means
(merely overly cautions speculation on my part). However, acting
quickly on this situation with the aid of the authorities may still
enable you to recover it if it is not long gone.

Again, seek out an attorney in your area who provides a free legal
consultation. Keep in mind that since the vehicle and the ?repairman?
are in Pennsylvania that only Pennsylvania laws have jurisdiction over
this matter. Tell the lawyer what you told me and let him or her
decide what your best course of action is. This way you might be able
to get some free (or very affordable) legal advice and determine what
is best for you in this situation. The Pennsylvania Bar Association
has a free lawyer referral service that may be able to assist you in
finding such a lawyer. Some of them may offer free consultations but
most of them will consult with you for a half-hour for an almost
unheard of nominal fee of just $30:

PENNSYLVANIA BAR ASSOCIATION
http://www.pabar.org/lrsblurb.shtml


I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;

Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher


[INFORMATION SOURCES]

THE PENNSYLVANIA STATUTES
http://members.aol.com/StatutesPA/Index.html

CORNEL UNIVERSITY: STATE LEGAL MATERIALS
http://www.law.cornell.edu/states/pennsylvania.html



[SEARCH STRATEGY]


SEARCH ENGINE(S) USED:

Google ://www.google.com
 

[SEARCH TERMS USED]

PENNSYLVANIA

LAW

STATUTES

BUSINESS

PRACTICES

FRAUD

DECEPTION

THEFT

CONTRACT
Comments  
Subject: Re: Deception Offense in PA
From: triumfdoogooder-ga on 22 Oct 2006 16:05 PDT
 
.....just wondering what's the wisdom in driving a late-model
(expensive) truck without COLLISION coverage!

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at answers-support@google.com with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  


Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy