Three years ago ONtheGO introduced you to consumer John Wright (we’ve changed his name to protect his privacy). John’s life was turned upside down by a curbsider — an illegal, unlicensed dealer. Well, there have been some recent developments in John’s case; so here’s his story again and an update you may find surprising.
John Wright climbed aboard an Ontario Northland bus en route from Timmins to Toronto; he only bought a one-way ticket. The 39-year-old welder from Moonbeam, Ontario was headed to the “Big Smoke” to buy a truck — a two-year-old Ford King Ranch pick-up he’d found advertised privately in Auto Trader. He couldn’t know this truck-buying sojourn would ultimately cost him his home and marriage.
“When I got to Toronto the seller picked me up at the subway station to take me to see the truck,” explained John. “He couldn’t have been nicer.” The seller explained the truck was having some repairs done under warranty and took John to a local Ford dealer to see it. The King Ranch was beautiful, but parked next to it was a 2007 Ford F350 Harley Davidson pick-up. “Now that was my dream truck,” said John, so imagine his surprise when the seller explained that both the trucks were his and both were for sale. Instead of recognizing one of the potential signs he was dealing with a curbsider (i.e. multiple vehicles for sale) John couldn’t believe his luck.
After a test drive John called his bank to ensure there wasn’t a lien registered against the truck and paid the seller $35,500. “I thought I covered my bases. This truck was a gleaming diamond and it was a beautiful day.” Indeed, John believed it was his lucky day, but the shine from his diamond had blinded him to another important warning — this top-of-the-line truck with only 54,000 kms was priced thousands below market value.
Within months of getting back to Moonbeam, John’s truck needed $10,000 Curbsiders … they rip people off, can put families in danger and sometimes wreak havoc on people’s lives. In repairs — all covered by Ford warranty. Months later, out of the blue, John got a call from the seller warning that he would be hearing from the police. “He was vague about why they would be calling but he told me not to believe them and that they were full of crap.” The next day John heard from an Investigator with OMVIC, Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, who alleged the seller was a curbsider — an illegal, unlicensed car dealer. “The Investigator explained the seller was buying late model high-mileage trucks from Western Canada, bringing them to Ontario and selling them with rolled-back odometers. It turned out my truck actually had over 180,000 kms when I bought it.” John was devastated. He called the seller and says he was met with denials and profanity; his troubles were just starting.
With the true mileage known Ford cancelled the warranty on the truck and the high mileage was catching up with it. “The turbo went and four injectors … that cost $12,000 — I maxed out my credit cards. Then the transfer case went — another $6,000.” Eventually John was forced to sell the truck. He gave full disclosure to the buyer which meant he only got $16,500; but he still owed $28,000; that meant another loss of $11,500 which led to the mortgaging of his house. John broke down as he explained the toll this financial crisis took on his family. “The emotional and financial problems this created for my marriage of 13 years was too much — I lost my wife. I lost my home. I lost it all.”
“Every now and then someone asks me what’s the big deal with curbsiding,” stated Terry O’Keefe, Director of Communications and Education for OMVIC. “Well, John’s case demonstrates what the big deal is. Curbsiders misrepresent themselves and often misrepresent the vehicles they sell. Whether it’s undisclosed accident damage or rolled-back odometers, they rip people off, can put families in danger and sometimes wreak havoc on people’s lives.”
As for the seller of John’s truck; he was a known curbsider with a previous conviction, one that saw the curbsider and his company jointly fined nearly $400,000. But OMVIC’s Investigators continued investigating the seller — and he was charged two more times; in each case, the allegations were the same — illegally selling vehicles, many with rolled-back odometers. It took time for the cases to wind their way through the courts, but recently the seller of John’s truck was convicted on two more counts. Mehran Amini was sentenced to 450 days imprisonment on the first charge and an additional 300 days to be served consecutively on the second — in total, more than two years in custody. Amini has appealed the convictions; he remains behind bars.
To learn more about curbsiders and how to protect yourself when buying a car, visit omvic.ca.