The Official Stop Curbstoning Blog
From The Official Blog of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Consumers often consider buying from a private seller as an alternative to buying from a used car dealer. An increasingly common scam involves dealers posing as private sellers and posting vehicles under the “for sale by-owner” section of Craigslist. This practice is also known as “curbstoning.”
One version of this scam involves licensed dealers who partner with an unlicensed individual who poses as the vehicle’s owner on Craigslist. The seller completes the transaction somewhere other than the dealership, but the name of the dealership may not be on the title and purchase documents. Then, if the buyer contacts the seller about problems with the car, the seller says it was never their car. If the consumer contacts the dealership, the dealer may say that they’re not responsible because the car was sold offsite.
Another version of this scam involves unlicensed dealers who fraudulently purchase cars at wholesale auctions by paying a licensed dealer to use their auction license number. They may also obtain their cars through a title skipping scam in which they target individuals who need to sell their car quickly, pay a low cash price for the car and re-sell it for a much higher price without putting their own name on the title. According to Massachusetts state law, anyone who sells more than three cars in a twelve month period is considered a dealer and must have a Class 2 dealer license.
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation can provide helpful information to consumers who have been victimized by these types of scams:
- Print out a copy of the Craigslist ad. It may come in handy if the original post has expired. Even if we can’t connect the unlicensed seller with a licensed dealer, the unlicensed seller must participate in a Lemon Law hearing if they sold three or more cars or if they took a fee to sell the car for someone else.
- Attempt to contact both the seller and the dealership (if you have the dealerships contact information). Regardless of where you bought the car and whether it was new or used, you may have rights under the state’s Lemon Law protections. If the car has over 125,000 miles then the dealer is bound by the Implied Warranty of Merchantability.
- Contact the licensing authority for the city or town where the dealership is located. Selling cars in the scenarios previously described is illegal and dealers can lose their licenses, and both licensed and unlicensed dealers can be fined.
- Contact our office. We recently assisted five consumers who had problems with cars they purchased on Craigslist, and who thought they were buying from private sellers.
- Check out our blogs on curbstoning and private party sales. The information can help you determine if you might be buying a car from a curbstoner.
If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.
From the Shelbyville Times-Gazette:
The arrival of tax season has many auto dealers putting their sales promotions into high gear. The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance's (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs and the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission, a part of TDCI's Regulatory Boards, reminds consumers to always conduct thorough research to ensure the auto deal you're getting isn't a scam.
"This time of year often generates a high complaint volume for Tennessee's Motor Vehicle Commission," said Motor Vehicle Commission Executive Director Paula Shaw. "Unethical parties prey on the fact that many people are receiving an instant infusion of cash that they can potentially use to buy a vehicle. If you're in the market for a car, research your options carefully to ensure you make the most of your money and prevent being scammed by a bad actor."
A prevalent scam tactic is "curbstoning." Curbstoning is the illegal sale of used vehicles under the false pretense of being the car's owner in order to evade city or state regulations. Curbstoning occurs when a person engages in the act of buying and selling used automobiles for profit but without a license, insurance, bond, sales tax number, Federal tax ID, proper local permits or legally established place of business.
Read the full article by clicking here.
In December, Bradley County Tennessee Sheriff Eric Watson was accused of curbstoning. Curbstoning, the practice of selling open-title cars on the side of the road, is illegal in Tennessee. Read more details from the Chattanooga Times Free Press in the articles below.Bradley County sheriff's used-car sales appear to exceed legal limit
Tennessee's Motor Vehicle Commission opens complaint into Bradley County sheriff
Eric Watson responds to complaint, denies 'curbstoning' allegations