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Beware Of Unlicensed “Curbstone” Car Dealers

It’s crucial to exercise caution and thorough verification when purchasing a used vehicle, especially considering the prevalence of unlicensed dealers or curbstoners. Here’s why it’s essential:

1. Rise of Unlicensed Dealers:

  • Online Transactions: With the advent of the internet, unlicensed dealers or curbstoners find it easier to buy and sell cars without adhering to legal regulations.
  • Curbstoners Origins: Curbstoners earned their name from selling cars from curbsides, lacking a dealer lot or license. While online platforms now facilitate such transactions, legal issues persist.

2. Risks of Dealing with Unlicensed Dealers:

  • Legal Violations: Unlicensed dealers are operating outside the law, making any dealings with them potentially problematic.
  • Lack of Regulation: Without a license, there’s no regulatory authority overseeing their activities, increasing the risk of fraudulent practices.

3. Odometer Tampering Concerns:

  • Federal Offense: Odometer tampering is a federal crime, and unlicensed dealers are more prone to engaging in such activities.
  • Financial Fraud: Rolling back odometer readings can artificially inflate the value of a vehicle, resulting in financial losses for unsuspecting buyers.

4. Real-Life Example of Unlicensed Dealer Scheme:

  • Case In Point: In a specific case, including a high school football coach, individuals were caught selling cars without a license.
  • Criminal Charges: Charges included acting as a car dealer without a license, odometer tampering, and engaging in unlawful proceedings.
  • Financial Impact: Over four million miles were rolled back, costing victims $150,000 due to artificially inflated vehicle values.

5. Importance of Checking Dealers:

  • Legitimacy Verification: Before making any purchase, it’s vital to verify the legitimacy of the dealer.
  • Licensing and Location: Ensure the dealer has a valid license, and check if they have a physical location. Most states mandate a physical shop for licensed dealers.

6. Federal and State Consequences:

  • Federal vs. State Crimes: Selling cars without a license is a state-level offense, while odometer tampering is a federal crime.
  • Serious Consequences: Federal offenses carry severe penalties, emphasizing the importance of due diligence.

7. Common Issues Faced by Buyers:

  • Dealer Disappearance: Buyers often face issues when the dealer, especially an unlicensed one, disappears after the sale.
  • Verification Challenges: Lack of proper documentation or information on unlicensed dealers complicates post-purchase verification.

8. Buyer’s Responsibility:

  • Pre-Purchase Checks: Buyers bear the responsibility of conducting thorough checks on both the vehicle and the dealer.
  • Avoiding Pitfalls: Stay cautious and avoid buying from unlicensed dealers, minimizing the risk of legal and financial repercussions.

The story highlights the risks associated with unlicensed dealers and the importance of being vigilant when buying a used vehicle. By verifying the legitimacy of both the vehicle and the dealer, buyers can protect themselves from potential fraud, legal troubles, and financial losses. Always prioritize transparency and legality in used vehicle transactions.

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