Checks you need to make before you buy a car so it's not stuck in park due to title issues

CLEVELAND - A car's mileage tells you a lot about the life of a car. Some drivers say they were duped into buying a car that had more miles than it appeared. There are steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.

Amanda Cooper saved two years for her first car. She chose a 2002 Trailblazer she found on craigslist.

"Driving 45 minutes away to Hiram on the country roads, I thought I really needed a 4 x 4 and the low miles would be good since it's so far away," Cooper said.

When you turn on the car, the odometer shows more than 46-thousand miles. State of Ohio Vehicle Inspection records and CARFAX list the car with 187,000  miles.

"I was really upset and started crying," said Cooper. "With that many miles who knows what needs to be replaced or where it's been."

Cooper is now stuck in a paperwork nightmare. She can't get a title because the miles are inaccurate, so she can't legally drive the car. She's not the only driver whose car is stuck in park.

Another man who didn't want to be identified said records show his car has 155,000 miles but the odometer says 87,000 miles.

Both drivers say Shannon Girard Payne sold them their cars. He was in Summit County Court recently after being indicted for tampering with records involving motor vehicle titles.

He has pleaded not guilty in that case, and it's ongoing.

In 2011, Payne was found guilty of similar crimes.

"I just hope he learns his lesson. Maybe O can get some money back to buy something else," Cooper said.

Payne's attorney, Noah Munyer,  issued the following statement, "Officially, Shannon Payne, through his counsel, is working to provide restitution to any and all victims involved in the case in which he is charged. Then timetable for the case is likely to be several months, however restitution should be complete well before that. Regarding the specifics of any criminal activity we have "no comment"."

He went on to say additional charges are coming soon, and Payne is cooperating with investigators. He's also been in touch with Cooper and is in the process of getting her money returned.

Payne is also working to provide her with restitution.

Until that happens, Cooper is borrowing other cars to get back and forth to school. Next time, she won't repeat her mistake.

"Definitely check a CARFAX," Cooper said.

If you ask, you can often get a CARFAX report for free from a reputable dealer.

CARFAX also offers a free odometer check, and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle office also allows consumers to do a free title search before buying a car. However, that won't always alert you to potential problems. In this case, neither check shows any red flags.

Before you buy any car, take it to a mechanic and have it inspected because this is not an isolated case.

The state recently sent another man to prison for odometer and paperwork issues.

When you get caught up in this, it's hard to get the paperwork straight. Payne's attorney said the future of Cooper's trailblazer is unknown as they try to figure out a way to legally title it. They're working with the original owner to legally title the car.

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