1 Million Used Cars Are Hiding A Terrible Secret


US-WEATHER-STORM-SANDY-CARS

Just because a used car is cheap and seems OK during a test drive doesn’t mean it’s safe to buy.

Criminals have devised ways to artfully conceal structural damage on used cars, allowing vehicles to be sold for a profit even though they may have been shoddily rebuilt after an accident or submerged in ocean water during a hurricane.

When insurance companies write off a vehicle as a “total loss” after an accident or other event like a flood or hail storm, the law in most states requires the vehicle’s title of ownership to be given a “brand.” That brand permanently marks the car as damaged goods to all potential future owners, but there are ways for it to be washed away. In the old days, it was done with chemicals. Now, photo editing software and digital scanners are used to print new titles. Or, cars can simply be re-registered in different states until the brand falls away.

Because there is no national titling law, incongruous state laws create opportunities for scammers to “title wash” wrecked cars, making them appear undamaged. Not only are consumers being ripped off, but they’re also putting themselves and others in danger when they unknowingly drive a salvaged car on U.S. highways.

The scam appears to happen on a large scale: According to the vehicle history provider CarFax, 800,000 cars in the U.S. — including at least 500 taxis — have been “title washed” to conceal their troubled histories.

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Lebanon Car Dealer Indicted For Fraudulent Titles, Falsified Mileage On Dozens Of Vehicles


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Lebanon, Mo., automobile dealer has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a mail fraud scheme in which he sold dozens of vehicles with fraudulent titles that greatly underreported the actual mileage of the vehicles.

Kenneth W. Smith, 60, of Lebanon, was charged in a seven-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Aug. 26, 2014. That indictment has been unsealed and made public upon Smith’s arrest and initial court appearance.

Smith operates Cars Unlimited in Lebanon. According to today’s indictment, Smith obtained fraudulent replacement titles for dozens of vehicles that were sold by Cars Unlimited between February 2010 and Nov. 7, 2011. Smith (operating through Cars Unlimited) allegedly applied for and received 54 replacement titles from the state of Missouri, each of which underreported the vehicle’s actual mileage between 95,000 and 209,000 miles. Smith allegedly resold these 54 vehicles at auto auctions using the fraudulent replacement titles. These 54 vehicles were sold for an aggregate total of approximately $346,450.

Beginning in February 2010, when Smith purchased vehicles (through Cars Unlimited) at auto auctions, the vehicle titles he received showed each vehicle’s actual mileage. After purchasing a vehicle, Smith allegedly submitted an “Application for Missouri Title and License” seeking a replacement title for the vehicle. Although he sought a replacement title, the indictment says, he in fact possessed the original title for the vehicle.

In each of those instances, Smith allegedly forged the signatures of the previous owner of the vehicle. The state of Missouri prepared a replacement title that was mailed to Smith at Cars Unlimited.

The federal indictment charges Smith with seven counts of mail fraud.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan. It was investigated by the FBI and the Missouri Department of Revenue.

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Five men charged for allegedly winding back odometers in used cars


FIVE men accused of winding back the odometers in high-end second-hand cars which they planned to offer for sale have been ordered to appear in court in June.

Serious Crime Task Force officers arrested the men after raids on six Adelaide properties, where 23 cars — including four Mercedes, four BMWs, four Holdens, three Toyotas, a Range Rover and a Volvo — computer equipment, odometer manipulation equipment and cash were seized.

Five firearms and ammunition were also claimed by police in a joint investigation with Consumer and Business Services officers, which began in February.

A 22-year-old man, of Colonel Light Gardens, a Kingswood man, 63, a Prospect, man, 66, a Greenwith man, 66, and a Parafield Gardens man, 65, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud and participating in a criminal organisation.

Police have laid 20 charges but said the inquiry was continuing. Further charges are expected.

The men were granted police bail to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on June 27.

Police say the investigation uncovered odometer tampering offences by licensed and unlicensed used car dealers.

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Effort in Colorado legislature would expand car salvage titles


Under current law, a vehicle more than six model years old that is considered totaled by an insurance company can avoid being labeled a "salvage vehicle," making it easier to resell once fixed. But, House Bill 1299 could change that. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Under current law, a vehicle more than six model years old that is considered totaled by an insurance company can avoid being labeled a “salvage vehicle,” making it easier to resell once fixed. But, House Bill 1299 could change that. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

In addition to washing away homes, roads and bridges, the September floods that blanketed some parts of the state also destroyed sedans, minivans and pickup trucks.

And those refurbished vehicles could easily be sold to consumers unaware of the prior damage because of a loophole in Colorado law that legislators at the Capitol are working to amend.

Under current law, a vehicle more than six model years old that is considered totaled by an insurance company can avoid being labeled a “salvage vehicle,” making it easier to resell once fixed. The “salvage” title means the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds its overall worth. Older vehicles, which are more likely to be deemed salvage, aren’t subject to that classification in Colorado.

House Bill 1299, which the Senate Transportation Committee approved Tuesday night, would repeal the vehicle-age requirement so that the vehicle, no matter how old, would carry the salvage designation after insurers make a “total” payout.

“It’s really a matter of helping to protect the consumers who are buying cars that are damaged. On the surface they look OK, the title is clean, but the car has gone through extensive repairs that will likely not keep it running,” said John Medved, who owns five car dealerships across the state and who backs the proposed measure.

Because of the state’s more lenient salvage laws, flood-damaged cars from areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy have made their way to Colorado for clean titles, say proponents of the measure, which include groups such as the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association and the Colorado Independent Automobile Dealers Association.

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Foreign Destinations For Stolen Canadian Cars


Big profits overseas for stolen luxury cars, SUVs, even family vehicles.Your car may be on a voyage to somewhere far, far away … Canada is a major auto-exporting country. Trouble is, some of the cars, trucks and SUVs headed abroad already have owners. While auto theft rates are falling, the lucrative export trade in stolen vehicles shows little sign of going down. By some estimates, 20,000 luxury cars, SUVs and even bread-and-butter family rides are ending up in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central America every year.Vehicles stolen on the Prairies tend to be boosted by joyriders, often looking for something to use to commit other crimes. But the metropolitan areas of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are rich hunting grounds for organized auto-theft rings that funnel stolen wheels overseas.Montreal is the principal exit port for stolen vehicles going overseas – more than 500 stolen vehicles were seized on the docks there last year – followed by Halifax and Vancouver. Some are also shipped by rail across the U.S. border, then onto ships in ports like Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Baltimore, Maryland, says Ben Jillett, a former RCMP officer who now works for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, helping recover some stolen vehicles from foreign countries.They arrive often in places you’ve never heard of before reaching their ultimate destinations. Flip through the gallery to find out what five top locations are.

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Arizona Attorney General sues car rental companies over fraud complaints


Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against a five affiliated car rental companies after receiving more than 150 complaints about service and pricing.

Horne filed the lawsuit against Saban’s Rent-A-Car LLC, DS Rentco Inc. and A-AAAble Rental Ltd. The Attorney General’s Office said those companies have been doing business as Phoenix Car Rental and Saban’s Rent a Car. The Attorney General’s Office said the companies are owned by or affiliated with Dennis N. Saban.

Calls to Phoenix Car Rental and Saban’s were answered by the same person who said the former was not affiliated with Saban and then said the latter was under new management. He declined further comment.

The Attorney General’s Office said it sent an undercover agent in to pose as a customer. The agent claims he was overcharged, denied a copy of the rental agreement and was falsely told he would be arrested if he drove outside the Phoenix area because of specially coded licenses plates.

Prosecutors also allege the car’s odometer reading was false.

“Many customers complained about this businesses failure to disclose additional fees to renters, and stated that Mr. Saban became abusive when they inquired about extra charges added at the end of the rental.” Horne said.

Original Article: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2014/03/05/arizona-attorney-general-sues-car.html

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Patrick Wayne Davis booked in Knox County on odometer fraud and identity theft charges


Patrick Wayne Davis

Patrick Wayne Davis

CHATTANOOGA, TN — Following an investigation by the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Patrick Wayne Davis was arrested for odometer fraud, identity theft, and felony theft on Tuesday, March 11 in Knoxville. Davis allegedly altered the odometer of a 2004 Honda Accord over 120,000 miles. He then fraudulently advertised the vehicle on “Craigslist “as a low mileage vehicle and subsequently sold it at a much higher price.

This case stemmed from a complaint taken by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office in Cleveland, Tenn. Bradley County then requested the assistance of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

THP Sergeant Thomas Clower, working with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, was able to identify Davis as a suspect in their initial investigation. They discovered that Davis illegally acted as the original owner of the Honda by taking the name of a man from Michigan. Agents with the Highway Patrol’s CID also located physical evidence in the Honda Accord.

On Thursday, March 13, Sergeant Clower and THP Interdiction Plus Sergeant Greg Roberts located Mr. Davis in Knoxville. Davis was arrested on odometer fraud, theft between $1,000 to $10,000 and identity theft. He was booked in the Knox County Jail. A court date will be set for the Knox County Criminal Court.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure that our state is a safe, secure place in which to live, work and travel; enforce the law with integrity; and provide customer-focused services professionally and efficiently.

Original Article: http://www.knoxvilledailysun.com/news/2014/march/patrick-wayne-davis-arrested.html 

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[CA] Insurance fraud mastermind sent to jail for 4 years


It’s believed Manitoba Public Insurance was defrauded of more than $800,000.

A man considered the mastermind of the largest defrauding of Manitoba Public Insurance in history is going to jail.

Quincy Adurogboye, 33, ofWinnipeg, pleaded guilty and was convicted of eight counts of fraud in what police called Project Rollback in 2009.

Wednesday, a judge sentenced him to four years behind bars and ordered him to pay back $150,000 to MPI, only a portion of what he fraudulently received from the corporation.

About 40 people were arrested and charged for their involvement in an elaborate scheme to defraud the insurance company by rolling back the odometer readings of recently purchased vehicles, staging collisions inWinnipegand then reporting the vehicles as stolen.

It’s believed the scheme cost MPI more than $800,000.

“This crime is extraordinary,” said Justice Chris Martin.

Martin also sentenced Norm Beardy, 44, to an 18-month conditional sentence to be served in the community and 150 hours of community service. Beardy was ordered to pay back $8,000 to MPI, only 10 per cent of the amount he was involved in scamming.

Original Article: http://globalnews.ca/news/892250/insurance-fraud-mastermind-sent-to-jail-for-4-years/

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[UK] Trainee solicitor guilty of car clocking fraud


A trainee solicitor has been found guilty of being part of a car clocking ring which generated thousands of pounds.

Karmjit Sohal, aged 24, allowed thousands of pounds in cash to pass through her bank account to trade vehicles in the racket which also involved her brother Inderjit Singh Sohal and a cousin called Jatinder Sandher.

The operation was based at Enzo Motors, inGreat Bridge Street, WestBromwich, and Netherton Motors, inHalesowen Road, Netherton.

Vehicles were bought and sold days later with thousands of pounds added to the price and up to 144,000-miles removed from the odometer reading between December 2009 and February 2011, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

Sohal had claimed she was ‘too busy studying law’ to be involved but jurors unanimously found her guilty after spending just under an hour and a half deliberating at the end of a four day trial yesterday afternoon.

The jury of nine women and three men returned guilt verdicts on two charges of conspiracy to defraud.

Judge Mark Eades asked the jury to deliver a verdict of not guilty on a third charge of converting criminal property after prosecutors offered no evidence.

Inderjit Singh Sohal and Jatinder Sandher along with two others, Sundeep and Pardeep Shinh – have already admitted their involvement in the racket.

The court previously heard police officers seized £10,000 in cash in a raid on Karmjit Sohal’s family home in Willenhall from inside a safe in the garage which also contained paperwork.

However during interview with trading standards officials she claimed she withdrew the cash over fears it could be stolen from her account if she lost her debit card .

TheKeeleUniversitygraduate had also denied knowledge of some transactions on her debit card, including a sum of £2,071 paid at an auction in Wednesbury for a W-reg Mercedes C220.

She claimed she had left her debit card ‘lying around’ her home as she was a ‘trusting person’ and did not realise it had been used in deals.

Forged MoTs and bogus service books were produced to match the false mileage, revealed prosecutor Mr Mark Jackson

The judge ordered a pre-sentence report to be compiled on Karmjit Sohal, of Sherlock Close, Willenhall.

She will reappear at Wolverhampton Crown Court with her four co-conspirators for sentence on October 28.

Original Article: http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2013/09/27/trainee-solicitor-guilty-of-car-clocking-fraud/

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[CA] Fraudsters using Internet to bait high-end car buyers


Online fraudsters are going upscale and targeting unsuspecting buyers of newer-model and luxury cars, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council warned Friday.

“This represents a change in strategy by curbsiders and fraudsters,” said Terry O’Keefe, spokesman for OMVIC.  “Curbsiders, unlicensed dealers who usually pose as private sellers, used to target buyers of inexpensive economy vehicles. Now,  we’re seeing a shift towards newer and high-end vehicles such as Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, and even newer-model pick-ups, which command higher prices and higher profit margins. Unfortunately, just as curbsiders commonly misrepresent themselves, they also misrepresent the vehicles they sell, which are often insurance write-offs, accident-damaged or odometer-tampered.”

O’Keefe also said he knows of sixOntarioresidents who lost a total of about $250,000 to phoney websites claiming to selling luxury cars such as Ferraris and Corvettes.

Car buyers have to be doubly vigilant: lurking in online classifieds are not only curbsiders, but out-right fraud artists operating fictitious dealerships supposedly based in the U.S, said O’Keefe.  These two trends are converging when it comes to car-buying rip-offs, he said.

Residents of border cities, such asWindsor, need to be extra careful as they are accustomed to shopping across the border, said O’Keefe.

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The National Odometer and Title Fraud Enforcement Association (NOTFEA) is a non-profit, professional organization formed originally in 1980 as the National Odometer Enforcement Association (NOEA).

The association is chartered as a non-profit corporation with the Commonwealth of Virginia and is registered as a 501(C)(3) organization with the Internal Revenue Service.

Membership in NOTFEA is restricted to individuals working for law enforcement and consumer protection agencies, licensing and motor vehicle departments, and private attorneys and investigators who are responsible for detecting, deterring, and prosecuting odometer, rebuilt/salvage, and other title fraud offenders under state, federal, and other applicable laws.