Curbstoning Scam – Dealers Posing as Private Sellers

Curbstoning Car Scam

Private sellers commit  the vast majority of auto fraud. Beware of curb stoning scam that may catch you by surprise. Dealers may represent private sellers to deceive consumers or bypass the Federal Trade Commission’s rules pertaining to selling used car rules. You may think that there is nothing harmless, but con artists are not only breaking the law, they are also selling cars with hidden defects that can impair its safety and value. Some of them go even further. They  sell a totaled vehicle with reconditioned title registered in another state to hide this fact.

How does this scam work?

You have most likely seen cars on sale on your street or parking lots and assumed that these cars are put on sale by private owners. However, “curbstoners”, auto dealers who could not sell it in their lots, place them in public view. Chances are high that many of these curbstone vehicles are lemons or junk cars that auto dealers could not sell on their lots.

Car dealers use this technique as a way to go around state laws. States have enacted legislation that defines how many cars a private individual may buy and sell in a certain period without having to be a licensed auto dealer. Curbstoners avoid being licensed since they will have to meet certain requirements in order to stay in business.

Today curbstoners have developed a new way of selling cars illegally: the Internet that makes it easier for them to conceal their identity and location from buyers and government agencies. eBay, AutoTrader, AutoMart have become the preferred sites for sellers who are looking to scam unsuspecting buyers. These scammers use various defrauding methods while conducting their online sales as affinity fraud. They use also  low-resolution photos that can easily hide cracked windshields, dents, faded paint, rust, and scratches.

Simply remember that buying a used car from an unlicensed seller is a risky venture as the vehicle

  • Maybe stolen, salvaged, reconditioned, or flood damaged.
  • May have been sold for export only.
  • Maybe title-washed
  • May have a rolled-back odometer.

How to Avoid Curbstoning Scam?

  • When the price of the vehicle is too good to be true, then it’s probably not true. 
  •  Be sure, that the driver license of the seller is consistent with that of the title of the car. In the case of buying a car on the Internet, ask the seller to provide clear scanned images of both documents, and if the names do not match, do NOT buy the car!
  • Take the car to a mechanic that you trust, in order inspect it.
  • Use vehicle history reports. These reports will help to identify any vehicles that have been in major accidents, have rolled-back odometers, etc. They will also show title transfers. In case you see there have been one or two title transfers or more in the past couple of years, you’d better avoid buying this vehicle.
  • Buy a car from reputable car dealers. Finding them is rather difficult, but they do exist.

If you have faced  a car dealer fraud contact a dealer fraud attorney at The Margarian Law Firm at (818) 553-1000 to know your legal rights.