Unknowingly bought an "EU stolen" car with German papers

27 posts in this topic

Hello,

I am in a very strange situation and hoping someone could provide some useful suggestion.

I bought a 2020 German registered car in May this year from a dealer in Germany who was selling it for a private seller (im auftrag) also in Germany and therefore considered a private sale. Never met the actual owner. The car was originally from Belgium. The price of the car was in the price range of other cars of the same model and year. Few days after registration police show up at my door and say the car is in Fahndungslist. Even the Zulassungstelle had no clue about this, as I had asked during registration,if there was anything I should consider since this was the first time I bought as a private sale. Gave all the details about the buying process to the police. With a lawyer, got the documents from Public prosecutor regarding the case and turns out it’s a stolen car in Belgium, registered later in Italy and then to the previous owner in Germany. Later it was sold to me. The car was impounded by the police early this year and informed to the Belgian authorities. Since the actual owner in Belgium did not react in a timely fashion, the German public prosecutor  passed an order to return back the car to the previous owner from whom I bought, but the car is still on the Fahndungslist. Implications being if controlled at any EU border with VIN check, they can impound the car immediately, insurance providers can deny me payments in case of any claims or if the Belgian owner comes with court order any time I will have to give back the car.

Other thing which the seller has made is to put a sentence in the sale contract about third party having rights on the car. This sentence was added on the template downloaded from internet. Unfortunately I did not read the first few lines, trusting the seller had taken the template straight from the internet. Was only made aware of it when my lawyer read the fine print of the contract in detail. I know its my mistake but even my lawyer agrees that such thing is not done normally and no one usually reads the fine print if the template is from a reputed site.

My lawyer says, since it’s a stolen car as per German law I cannot have the ownership and therefore cannot sell it any point which I agree. I am in the process of contacting the seller through the lawyer for outside court settlement for case of cheating as they did not inform me about the stolen car story when they sold it to me. To take back the car and give back the money.

My questions for suggestions are

1.       If they do not agree for outside court settlement and I have to go to court (which will cost quite a lot) and the judge rules in their favor stating that Belgian owner did not come back, what options do I have?

2.       If I contact any Belgian lawyer and be successful (very small chance) in removing the car from the Fahndungslist, can I then claim to be the owner and drive the car as well as sell it at a later date without any implications of committing a fraud?

3.       Any one who had similar experiences, could you please shed light how you resolved your situation?

Sorry for the long post. Hoping for some support in this situation I have got myself into.

 

Sesh

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He mentions even if it is off the Fahndungslist, i cannot be the owner. But in one of the TT post, someone mentioned that once off the list, the person became the owner.

So asking for opinions or suggestions who might know the law or had been in similar experiences

 

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well - there is an article from ADAC about a similar case here:

https://www.adac.de/news/bgh-urteil-gestohlenes-auto/

 

The car is not yours - whether it is on the list or not - you have to give it back to the rightful owner (or the police).

 

Whether or not you get your money back from the person who sold it to you depends on when the vehicle was put onto that  Fahndungsliste.

If it was on that list on the day that you bought it, you'll get your money back (still have to go to court, of course).

If the car was put on that list after you bought it, you're SOL.

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Thanks for the link. The car was already in the Fahndungslist. Dont know if it is the same as SIS. They had also impounded the car from the seller and only when the original Belgium owner did not react, it was given back. But according to the lawyer, the seller was still not the owner and could not transfer it to me.

He says that the Kaufvertrag is valid but the übergabe not. So we could ask to cancel the contract on this basis.

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An update on the proceedings. 

 

We wrote with the lawyer for an out of court settlement also mentioning the above ruling to the seller but she refused our claims straightaway. She went on to say the car was never on the Fahndungsliste and she was the rightful owner when the car was sold. 

 

This statement contradicts what was added on the contract about third person having rights on the car. Moreover I confirmed with the police that the car is still on the list. 

We now have to probably  go to court against this seller. 

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3 hours ago, silty1 said:

Note to self: never buy a car in Europe in a private sale.  

 

Good advice but particularly through a dealer as that exonerates them of most if not all responsibility if anything goes wrong, so be very wary if that is the deal/scam!

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Sure, also check to make sure it's not some Auftrag thing like the OP got caught up in.  What a mess of shit. 

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A quick check of the vin number against car vertical or similar vin-check website would have (most probably) revealed the stolen status of the car. That would have saved the Op unnecessary Hassel. 

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8 hours ago, vivanco said:

A quick check of the vin number against car vertical or similar vin-check website would have (most probably) revealed the stolen status of the car. That would have saved the Op unnecessary Hassel. 

I did this  with car vertical but none of them showed up anything even with their paid option which provides much detailed info. I think it only shows any accidents or insurance claims. Even though it searched 12 stolen car databases in Europe it didn’t show up anything. I don’t know if it will show up only in Belgium stolen Car database which car vertical does not check. I was under the impression that with Schengen Information System (SIS), it was centralised and would show up in other databases too. May be car vertical does not really have access to it as they claim because it is a very protected database restricted to certain agencies alone. 

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14 hours ago, silty1 said:

Sure, also check to make sure it's not some Auftrag thing like the OP got caught up in.  What a mess of shit. 

Yes a very expensive lesson learnt. Another lesson is to first have Rechtsschutzversicherung and  then sign the contract, so that such legal issues are covered. 

Another tip for people buying cars is to call up local police of your town and ask them to check the VIN in the database. They will most certainly do it. This seems a sure way to rule out any hidden legal issues with the car. 

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27 minutes ago, Sesh said:

I did this  with car vertical but none of them showed up anything even with their paid option which provides much detailed info. I think it only shows any accidents or insurance claims. Even though it searched 12 stolen car databases in Europe it didn’t show up anything. I don’t know if it will show up only in Belgium stolen Car database which car vertical does not check. I was under the impression that with Schengen Information System (SIS), it was centralised and would show up in other databases too. May be car vertical does not really have access to it as they claim because it is a very protected database restricted to certain agencies alone. 

That's a bummer. You did all the precautionary check and still landed in the mess. Feel sorry for you. Just getting curious did vin check pointed out the belgium and Italian history of the car? 

 

28 minutes ago, Sesh said:

 Another tip for people buying cars is to call up local police of your town and ask them to check the VIN in the database. They will most certainly do it. This seems a sure way to rule out any hidden legal issues with the car. 

I doubt police will divulge this info to anyone just calling. This is just my hunch after living here. You can't get your own accident report from the police, without involving lawyer. 

 

Since the car already got successfully registered before in Germany without any police action and Zulassungsstelle were clueless about its stolen nature, I doubt you could have anything different to prevent your situation. 

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23 hours ago, vivanco said:

That's a bummer. You did all the precautionary check and still landed in the mess. Feel sorry for you. Just getting curious did vin check pointed out the belgium and Italian history of the car? 

 

I doubt police will divulge this info to anyone just calling. This is just my hunch after living here. You can't get your own accident report from the police, without involving lawyer. 

 

Since the car already got successfully registered before in Germany without any police action and Zulassungsstelle were clueless about its stolen nature, I doubt you could have anything different to prevent your situation. 

VIN info does point out Belgium history being present but not Italian as the car was registered only for a month there. Italian papers with which it was registered in Germany were legit as per the check of Zulassungstelle, so police suspect that it was registered in Italy with fake Belgien papers. I don’t know if the Italian Zulassungsstelle made the check for genuineness of the Belgian papers or not. 

 

First time when it was registered, no one knew about the stolen nature because it got entered in the Fahndungsliste only in Jan this year but when I registered in may the case was already investigated. So my frustration is the Zulassungsstelle had no clue about it during my registration even when I asked why the dates on the Fahrzeug Schein are different from the Erstzulassung Date. They simply registered and I was contacted 5 days later by police when they got info from BKA. 

 

Calling the police again, he checked the list for me when I gave him the VIN. I think it should work as we are not asking for any personal info but only a yes or no question 

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On 13.10.2021, 09:43:26, silty1 said:

Note to self: never buy a car in Europe in a private sale.  

Also avoid selling it to a private person. Can also lead to a lot of problems. I traded in my last car, even if that meant losing 20% of its value, just to simplify a potential mess.

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4 hours ago, Sesh said:

VIN info does point out Belgium history being present but not Italian as the car was registered only for a month there. Italian papers with which it was registered in Germany were legit as per the check of Zulassungstelle, so police suspect that it was registered in Italy with fake Belgien papers. I don’t know if the Italian Zulassungsstelle made the check for genuineness of the Belgian papers or not. 

 

 

Considering registering a car in Italy is expensive (not like here that it costs like 20 bucks), if they registered it there only for one month it was most probably just to create a fake history and be able to sell if here easily.

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20 hours ago, Krieg said:

 

Considering registering a car in Italy is expensive (not like here that it costs like 20 bucks), if they registered it there only for one month it was most probably just to create a fake history and be able to sell if here easily.

If registering a car in Italy is expensive, then I would hope they have much thorough checks of the genuineness of the papers but unfortunately seems not to have happened in this case. 

 

Moreover as per German ZFZR this history does not exist and also no insurance was taken in Italy. Info of Italian registration is only present in police files. As per German ZFZR, the previous owner is the first owner of the car and I am the second. It is as though the previous owner bought a new car. 

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21 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

Also avoid selling it to a private person. Can also lead to a lot of problems. I traded in my last car, even if that meant losing 20% of its value, just to simplify a potential mess.

What problems do you foresee there as long as the seller has been honest to list out everything about the car?

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14 hours ago, Sesh said:

What problems do you foresee there as long as the seller has been honest to list out everything about the car?

Many. A friend wanted to sell a car to an Iraqi guy. He came with a couple of bouncers and "forced" the deal on lower value.

Another problem is that most people want cash-only transactions, which I am firmly against.

Also I don't know German specifics, but in Portugal it's very easy to make a mistake in the transaction and you end up paying fines from the new owner and so on.

My father had a huge issue 2 years ago, as he sold a car to another person, who had it stolen before registering on her name. Long story, my father had to handle the police, he had to go to court and so on, for a fucking old 500€ car.

 

I gave my old Merc B as a trade-in when I bough the Tesla. They actually made a decent offer. I gave them many details by email, they made the offer, then on delivery day they did a 10 minute inspection and it was done! Bon voyage! 

 

I HATE selling second hand stuff. Took me 2 years to sell some tires. 90% of the people who called were assholes, either would not show up, or would haggle to ridiculous low values and when I would say no, some would even tell me "fuck you for wasting my time".

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24 minutes ago, MikeMelga said:

Many. A friend wanted to sell a car to an Iraqi guy. He came with a couple of bouncers and "forced" the deal on lower value.

 

I had a coworker that almost happened to.  He was meeting the guy somewhere late at night.  Was a bit spooked and decided to park a bit further away and call him and say he's there.  The guy comes out with a group of guys looking for him.  He took off.

 

Another one sold a car on plates to a private buyer.  The buyer said he'd do the abmeldung the next day.  Instead he drove all over the place collecting fines on his plates.  He said he had his location broadcast on whatsapp so he could see which cities he's in.  He talked to the police and his insurance and they said sorry, not a lot we can do.  He was stuck cleaning up the mess.

 

I sold my old car to wirkaufendeinauto.de  Didn't get too much money for it but they did the abmeldung right away and no worries about them coming back later and complaining that the car has developed some problem.

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