What to do if I bought an tablet from someone online that wasn’t reported lost or stolen at the time but later was so reported?

UPDATED: Oct 3, 2014

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What to do if I bought an tablet from someone online that wasn’t reported lost or stolen at the time but later was so reported?

I sold it to a cellphone company, and it still wasn’t lost or stolen. Later, someone had reported it lost or stolen. Now the company is threatening to call the cops in I don’t give them the money back for the tablet. I’ve already spent the money on bills and don’t have it to give to them. I’m afraid they will call the cops on me, but I don’t see what case they would have against me. Is there anything that can do legally in this situation?

Asked on October 3, 2014 under Criminal Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if you neither knew or had reason that you should have known (e.g. the tablet was bought for so much below market value that a reasonable person would have suspected it was stolen), but instead bought it in good faith, you are not liable for the fact it was stolen, and would not face either criminal liability (e.g. charges) or civil liability (have to give back the money). Of course, they may not believe you, and file a police report  and/or sue you. In those cases, you'd be well-served by having whatever evidence is available to show that you did not know this was stolen--e.g. evidence you paid a fair value for it; testimony from any other persons who could corroborate that you did not know the seller previously; etc.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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