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Thread: I've Been Hoodwinked !!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Huntington, New York - American Zone
    Posts
    793

    Default I've Been Hoodwinked !!

    I'm dismayed to state (and somewhat embarrassed) that I have allowed myself to be taken advantage of by an EBay seller. About 7 years (+/-) ago when I was starting to acquire parts for a Sportster restoration, I purchased a motor case for a 1964 XLCH, one of two '64 projects that I'm working on. After many years of doing this stuff, I'm quite experienced at bad-number detection. From what I could see from the online photo, the numbers looked quite good. So I won the bid. When I received the case, I checked the VIN numbers and they looked as represented online. I also checked sequence with the line bore (belly) numbers and that seemed to check out as well. The shape of the number block was flawless, the digit shapes were correct and the texture of the surface of the number pad was original. All seemed good and I shelved the case for future parts acquisition and eventual assembly. Mentally, I considered the VIN-check successful and put it out of my mind.

    Years later, I assembled the motor with parts that I had acquired over many years of collecting and it now looks beautiful! It currently resides in the frame with the complete front end and rear swing arm assemblies installed and with beautifully restored aluminum wheel rims with reproduction grasshopper tires. I'm now ready to tackle the correct and original sheet metal and painting as the final task.

    During the assembly, I took a a number of photos for my historic record, one of which being a close-up (with full flash) of the VIN number. Last week I was reviewing these pictures on my computer and noticed an anomaly in the VIN pic. The bright flash picked up a problem with one digit what my not-so-great eyesight missed; one digit was over-stamped. In fact, now that I can see this deceit, I can even identify the original digit. This was a really 'good' job - better than any other I've seen and I'm embarrassed to say, it got past me, as over-stamps are almost always obvious to the trained eye. I'm obviously going to disassemble the motor and remove the offending case.

    I'm thinking of bringing the case to the local police and showing them what I have and explaining how I obtained it, which means there's a chance of them taking the case from me. However, I also wonder if there is a (albeit, slight) risk of being falsely accused of receiving stolen property, as I don't have a copy of the EBay transaction and I don't believe that EBay keeps records of transactions for very long. Therefore, I have no trail of origin and the buck might stop with me! Conversely, this course of action is counterbalanced by the slight possibility that if the case does not come up as stolen, or if it's not claimed by the original owner I may be able to legally retain the part. But even if that happens, I'm not sure how this would work in representing the bike at sale, as I will sell it (some day) and will not represent it as anything other than it will be at that time.

    I reside in New York State and am hoping that some other member might be knowledgeable in these affairs, and who can offer some guidance or options as to how I might proceed.

    But - at this juncture, I need another (totally legitimate) 1964 CH motor case and ask if anyone out there has one to sell, or knows of somebody that might.

    Advice to all - be very careful. This is a truly LOUSY position to be in.
    Last edited by Bill Pedalino; 09-26-2015 at 10:09 AM.
    Bill Pedalino
    Huntington, New York
    AMCA 6755

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Menomonie, WI
    Posts
    1,267

    Default

    I have been in a similar situation. What I did was to take the number (not the case) to the Wisconsin DMV and have them run an archives search. A regular search might not turn up anything because after awhile old records 'fall off' the end of a regular otherwise these files get so big they are unmanageable. In Wisconsin a serial number older than 4 years likely is not on current hot file. They also claimed they ran it on a national file.

    I made up a story about being able to buy the suspected case and would like them to check it out for me before I did. I think the search cost me $18. Mine came back clean and I suppose it could have been stolen in a far off place but I felt good about it.

    I personally do not believe going after the seller is going to do any good. He might have been duped himself.

    Jerry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    S.E.N.Y. State American side of Hudson River
    Posts
    484

    Default

    I don't know how you feel about this solution but in N.Y. as you know have transferable registrations. If you do not have any paperwork for the bike it is very easy to get it in N.Y. however you must deal with the Special Plate Division in Albany to have things go easy. DO NOT go to local DMV other than to get a tax receipt.. If you choose this route I will PM you my number and you can call me. I have done it a few times. I sent you my number. Give me a call if you want.
    Last edited by D.A.Bagin; 09-26-2015 at 11:11 AM.
    D. A. Bagin #3166 AKA Panheadzz 440 48chief W/sidecar 57fl 57flh 58fl 66m-50 68flh 70xlh

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Catonsville,Md.
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    175

    Default

    In some states having possession of an altered number case especially one that can be seen is a criminal offense.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Huntington, New York - American Zone
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    Default

    you're correct Tom, but they must prove some sort of nefarious intent, which in my case, isn't there. But in any case, its a legal hassle I neither need or want, especially at this point in my life. A few hundred bucks spent on a pristine set of cases is a small price to avoid the legal mumbo-jumbo and for a clear conscience after I sell the machine (in 30 or 40 years).
    Bill Pedalino
    Huntington, New York
    AMCA 6755

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Sarasota, Florida
    Posts
    4,166

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    Just a thought Bill; run the numbers as others have stated, but also run the number that was altered. If that search turns up the original owner, perhaps you could track them down and make a deal for their title. Of course you can explain that all you got was the motor case, and don't posses the rest of the bike. If that works, I don't know how you could restore the number pad, but you would have done the right thing.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Lamoille County, Vermont
    Posts
    1,147

    Default

    If you go to the local police, they will be able to check the bike in a stolen database list... They likely won't be much help finding the seller 7 years later... unless you have receipts, cancelled checks, etc.

    It is very unlikely that anyone will bother to seize the case. If they even can... there is little upside. And you won't liable for any criminal issues for bringing it to their attention.

    IMHO, talk to your local PD. Show them what you have. At very least, someone may be interested in seeing how someone did the overstamp.

    And you never know, you might help someone find out the fate of a cool bike that was stolen from them many moons ago... or, better still, you might help find the sierra-bravo who stole it. Longshot, but THAT would be a happy ending...

    Cheers,

    Sirhr

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    377

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Pedalino View Post
    but they must prove some sort of nefarious intent, which in my case, isn't there.
    That's not the case in my State. Here it is illegal to alter the numbers on the engine, frame or any other "significant component," or to posses any of those components with altered numbers. Here, simply possessing an engine with altered numbers is a crime irrespective of whatever intent the person might have. If you think about this, it's not unreasonable. It's essentially impossible to prove intent, and no matter what anyone caught with re-stamped cases is going to argue they didn't know, had nothing but the best of intentions, etc. It's the same as someone being found with a pound of cocaine they had no intention of ever using or selling. The law makes the possession of the item itself illegal without needing to prove "intent."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    466

    Default

    You may not find your purchase on Ebay records... but if you paid with Paypal, then you "should" be able to go back through those and find that purchase. I just checked my Paypal account and I was able to search my records back to 2005 (for a test time) Hopefully, you recall the approx. date, or amount paid to help find it. I have done this for something I bought a long time ago. Might be worth the 20 minutes it takes....??
    Last edited by Jim; 09-28-2015 at 09:33 AM.
    Jim

    AMCA #6520

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Huntington, New York - American Zone
    Posts
    793

    Default

    Thanks - I'll try the PayPal approach....
    Bill Pedalino
    Huntington, New York
    AMCA 6755

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