Buying a used car is a scary endeavour at the best of times, as the sad reality is that even a great looking car which has never been crashed might just be loaded full of problems. It doesn’t help that there are still people out there who have no problem screwing other people in order to make a buck. For the most part, these guys are known as curbsiders. The operate outside of the laws, posing as private citizens selling cars, when in fact they are used car dealers.
On January 15, Mehran Amini was convicted of two counts of curbsiding and one count of engaging in an unfair business practice. The latter was for rolling back the odometers on vehicles which had been brought into Ontario from out west. He was sentenced to a ground breaking 450 days in prison for his actions.
Amini brought as many as 30 high mileage pick-up trucks into the province, rolled back the odometers and sold them through online classified listings. Incredibly, this is not the man’s first run in with the law. On two previous occasions, OMVIC, the organization in Ontario that oversees the used car industry, charged Amini with similar offences.
Unless you REALLY know what you are looking at, it is all too easy to come into contact with sellers like this. It is much safer to buy from an OMVIC member dealer, like the ones listing here on Driven Wheels.
OMVIC press release
Toronto, ON, January 15, 2016 – Mehran Amini was sentenced to 450 days incarceration after being found guilty on two counts of curbsiding (acting as a dealer without registration) contrary to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act and one count of engaging in an unfair business practice (related to odometer tampering) in contravention of the Consumer Protection Act. “This is the longest sentence handed out in Ontario for illegal vehicle sales,” explained Michael Rothe, Director of Legal Services for OMVIC, Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator. “And it sends an important and strong message to those who would prey on Ontario consumers.”
Amini was charged when OMVIC Investigators discovered he’d brought thirty vehicles, predominantly late model pick up trucks with high mileage, from Western Canada to Ontario; rolled back the trucks’ odometers; and then sold them to unsuspecting consumers.
“This individual is responsible for a great deal of consumer harm,” explained Larry Edgar, OMVIC Acting Director of Investigations. “When the true history of the vehicles became known, the purchasers found themselves with trucks worth far less than they had paid and many faced unexpected expensive repairs (due to the high mileages), some of which had crippling financial implications for the buyers.”
In passing judgment, the court agreed. Justice Maimun Gilani described the consumers who’d purchased vehicles from Amini as “victims,” and found the accused showed no remorse. Justice Gilani also noted Amini’s hostile and offensive behaviour towards OMVIC Investigators.
Evidence presented in court showed Amini placed ads in online marketplaces posing as a private seller, though he told some buyers he was a dealer, and that he used multiple aliases. Records show these are not the first curbsider convictions for Amini; he has been charged by OMVIC and convicted on two other occasions for the same behaviour. In the first, he and his company were fined $393,000 for selling 42 vehicles with rolled-back odometers (Amini has appealed this conviction); and he is scheduled to appear in court March 21 for sentencing on the latest charges.
The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act requires ALL vehicle dealers and salespeople to be registered with OMVIC. Curbsiders are illegal, unlicensed dealers. Just as curbsiders commonly misrepresent themselves – often posing as private sellers – they frequently misrepresent the vehicles they sell; many are accident-damaged, rebuilt write-offs or odometer-tampered.
“It is vital car buyers understand when they’re protected, and when they’re not,” states Terry O’Keefe, Director of Communications and Education for OMVIC. “Since curbsiders are not registered with OMVIC, consumers who purchase from them are deemed to have conducted a transaction with a private seller and are therefore not protected by Ontario’s consumer protection laws and do not have access to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.”
While curbsiders commonly pose as private sellers, many sell from small automotive-related businesses like repair centres or body shops. If a consumer is unsure whether a business selling vehicles is actually registered, they should conduct a search on OMVIC’s website, or ask to see the seller’s OMVIC licence. If they are unable to produce one, walk away!
How to Spot a Curbsider
Curbsiders often use one or more of the following tactics to dupe car buyers:
Vehicle not registered to seller or only registered to seller for short period
Vehicle 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 info removed) or with missing pages
Doesn’t provide vehicle history report (CarProof or CARFAX)
Refuses inspection by purchaser’s mechanic
Vehicle often not plated and/or uninsured; therefore test-drive is not possible
Refuses to provide receipt or proof of purchase
News source: OMVIC