Don’t be ‘fooled’ by a curbsider
Replacing your partner’s key/fob with a blank and watching the “what the he** is going on” fit of frustration when the car doors won’t unlock, is classic; and even simpler, leaving a fake “sorry I hit your car” note on their windshield that unleashes a panicked examination and re-examination of every body panel, are both pranks bound to make those with a slightly sadistic sense of humour laugh out loud, and likely retell with glee. Ah yes, April Fool’s Day. And while most of us can appreciate, if not enjoy, mischievous antics, no one truly likes to be made a fool. And yet, for car shoppers who have decided to enter the “for sale by owner” marketplace, there are individuals, more than you can imagine, who get rich doing just that.
According to research conducted by OMVIC, Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, one in four vehicle for sale by owner ads placed in popular online marketplaces, is actually placed by curb- siders. Curbsiders are illegal, unlicensed dealers who often pose as private sellers, though some operate from small automo-tive businesses like repair shops. And just as curbsiders try to fool you to believe they are selling their own car, they’ll do the same when describing a vehicle’s history: many are previous write-offs with undisclosed accident repairs or are odometer-tampered.
Recently a Mississauga curbsider was sentenced to 50 days in jail for his illegal vehicle sales. Andre N. Campbell was charged by OMVIC with acting as a dealer without registration and selling five vehicles between 2012 and 2014. “Each vehicle was a rebuilt write-off,” stated Tom Girling, OMVIC’s Director of Investigations.
“The purchasers, who found the vehicles advertised online, were unaware of the true history of the vehicles.” When OMVIC Investigators posed as potential customers interested in a Jeep Campbell had for sale, he allegedly provided them with a vehicle history report that was missing the page listing a previous accident that resulted in more than $13,000 in damage.
Fooling consumers has been Campbell’s MO for years. In 2013 he was sentenced to 32 days in jail for the sale of 16 vehicles, many with undisclosed accident repairs including one to a driving school instructor who told Campbell the vehicle was to be used by his students. Campbell was also convicted of curbsiding in 2004 and 2001.
In a letter submitted to the court Campbell acknowledged his actions were “stubborn” and “immature.” However, in handing down his sentence Justice of the Peace Anthony Amenta found Campbell displayed a disregard for the law and showed little remorse for his repeated offences.
“…one in four vehicle for sale by owner ads placed in popular online marketplaces, is actually placed by a curbsider.”
HOW TO SPOT A CURBSIDER
Curbsiders often use one or more of the following tactics to dupe car-buyers:
• Vehicle is not registered to the seller or has only been registered to seller for a short period
• Vehicle is priced below market value
• Doesn’t provide the mandatory Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP), or provides a UVIP that has been tampered with (e.g. lien or mileage information removed, or pages missing)
• Doesn’t provide a vehicle history report (CarProof); or information/pages are missing
• Refuses inspection by the purchaser’s mechanic
• Vehicle is often not plated and/or uninsured; therefore a test drive is not possible
• Doesn’t provide a receipt or proof of purchase
So this spring, if you’re searching the online classifieds for a vehicle, be aware that there are illegal, unlicensed dealers pretending to be private sellers operating in the marketplace trying to make a “fool” of you. Learn how to spot them before you start shopping. And remember, ONLY when you buy from an OMVIC-Registered Dealer are you protected by OMVIC and Ontario’s consumer protection legislation.
To learn more about curbsiders and how to protect yourself when buying a car, visit omvic.ca. To report a suspected curbsider, call 1-888-NO-CURBS (662-8727) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.