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Stolen Cars Being Sold At Auctions

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A stolen Honda CRV that was sold at a car auction. (Credit: CBS)

A stolen Honda CRV that was sold at a car auction. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Auctions have long been considered a good place to get a good deal on cars.

But imagine buying a car only to later find out it’s a stolen vehicle.

It happened to one Chicago area businessman, and CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports now he’s out his money and the car!

Micah Sapoznick says he watched helplessly as Illinois State Police seized a 2003 Honda CRV from his car lot, and there was nothing he could do.

“If a stack of money flew away, I’d be just as angry. It was the exact same situation,” said Sapoznick. That’s because his dealership bought the car at Obenauf Auction Service for $6264. He event had the original title to prove it, but it turns out the vehicle was reported stolen months earlier.

“The name on the title and the name they wrote the check to are two different people,” said Sapoznick, who contacted the insurance company listed as the current owner. They in turned called police.

Sapoznick says all he has left of his car is a stack of papers and a police report.

CBS 2 tried to get answers from Obenauf Auction Service, but the owner declined our interview request.

In a letter to Sapoznick’s attorney, however, Obenauf Auction Service acknowledges it sold a stolen vehicle. Frank Scafidi with the National Insurance Crime Bureau says this type of crime happens more often than you’d think.

“They’re going to be out that money and there is no recourse for them because the seller is long gone,” explained Scafidi.

That’s why the NICB offers a free VIN check service that shows if a car is stolen or salvaged. But Sapoznick feels the auction houses need to be held legally accountable for their inventory.

“At the end of the day they still have to do their due diligence. They can’t just sell stolen merchandise,” he said.

Sapoznick has filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s office about Obenauf Auction Service. The Secretary of State’s office is also now looking into the matter.

Sapoznick says he wants to be reimbursed for his legal fees as well as the money he paid for the car and the money he invested to prepare it for resale.

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