Apr 14, 2014 4:44 PM
California Department of Motor Vehicles investigators fanned out across the state on Saturday, citing unlicensed car dealers who disguise themselves as private sellers with the intent of flipping unsafe, used vehicles.
Undercover officers issued 93 citations gave 68 warnings, impounded 109 vehicles and arrested four individuals on outstanding warrants during Saturday’s operation according to a DMV press release.
Unlicensed car dealers, called “Curbstoners” typically purchase “low end” vehicles from private parties and salvage auction yards and usually do little, if any, mechanical or safety reconditioning. They can face several thousand dollars in fees and fines for each confiscated vehicle.
The most common crime committed by Curbstoners is Tax Fraud. When an unsuspecting customer buys a car, the curbstoner will leave the title blank or “open.” Without the curbstoner’s name on the document, they are able to pocket the money (usually cash) and avoid paying State Sales Tax, Federal Income Tax and any other declarations that are legally required.
The DMV has provided the following list you can use to protect yourself from an unlicensed car dealer:
Be suspicious of cars and vehicles suddenly parked in undesignated areas.
Monitor free advertising sites, like Craigslist, for cases in which the same contact phone number appears on various private-party listings.
Compare contact information on ‘For Sale’ signs to see if it is the same.
Verify the name on the Certificate of Ownership (title) matches the seller’s name.
Steer away from sellers who accept only cash and refuse checks or money orders.
A curbstoner will not let you have the vehicle independently inspected or provide maintenance records that match the car.
A curbstoner will not allow you to conduct a CarFax report because it will detail if the vehicle was sold at auction.