Buying a used car is already risky business, and this story of fraud in New York will have you double checking your paperwork.
Matin Jarmuz used Craigslist.com to sell his 1992 Toyota Camry. According to Jarmuz's Craigslist post, at 21-years-old and 200,000 miles the Camry still had a smooth, quite ride. He sold the car quickly to Chris Sciolino for $900 cash. Jarmuz thought he had made a good deal, until other Craigslist users alerted him that his old Camry was up for sale again by the same man he just sold it to, only this time listed at $1,800 and with 79,000 miles.
Odometer fraud is a serious problem in the U.S. In a 2002 study the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that close to half a million cars are sold each year with false odometer readings, at a cost of more than of $ 1 billion dollars annually. Since the study was done, the Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations has seen an escalation in cases. Fixing an odometer is a federal crime, one made much easier on newer cars where, instead of cracking open a dashboard, sellers just need to hack the onboard computer.
How do you protect yourself? First, always check the paperwork. Titles are required by law to list the mileage of a vehicle every time it changes hands, although cars older then 10 years don't have this requirement. For older cars, checking with a cars history with sites like CarFax.com can revel a car's true mileage. Also check the wear on the pedals and ignition of the car, if it seems more worn down then the miles suggest you could be looking at fraud.
When WIVB 4 called Sciolino playing the part of an interested buyer they found another savvy shopper had already called him on the mileage discrepancy. When the reporter then asked to see the title the car was suddenly not for sale.
NHSTA provides a hotline where consumers can seek legal help if they feel they may have been a victim of odometer fraud.