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Old December 18th, 2008, 07:40   #1
dieseldorf
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Default UPDATED, READ ME: Am I a Curbstoner? And, what IS curbstoning?

Leonard has addressed this concern in the past. It's taking place more and more here at Fred's.



Quote:

Curbstoning: Facts And Tips To Avoid Being Taken


Herta Soman learned about curbstoning the hard way when she fell for a curbstoner's story and wound up paying $15,000 for a '97 Honda only to find out the warranties were void because the vehicle had been totaled nearly three (3) years earlier.

"I was angry-I was in shock," said Soman after discovering through CARFAX that the car she purchased from a private seller had once been salvaged. "I was speechless-I feel like I'm driving a fraud."

Sadly, Soman is not alone. Law enforcement officials estimate that many of the cars advertised in classified ads or sold at the curb may be curbstoned vehicles-vehicles sold by scam artists who pose as private sellers. These curbstoners often sell vehicles reputable dealers won't touch because of hidden problems, such as salvage titles, that can affect both safety and value.

"Unfortunately, dishonesty sometimes is very profitable," laments John Creel, Consumer Investigator. Creel has been busting curbstoners for years. He explains how this scam works. Curbstoners pick up bad cars-"cars that may have spun odometers or salvage vehicles" for example-from junkyards or wholesale auctions, then pass them off to unsuspecting consumers as quality family cars.

"You don't tell him you got it a week ago, and you cleaned it up and now you're selling it," reveals a former curbstoner caught by Creel who requested anonymity. "It's possible even to hide the fact that a car has been totaled by registering it or changing the title in another state," he adds.


Consumer safety advocates say you can't be too careful when buying a used car today since rebuilt wrecks are more likely to fail in the event of another crash. It is especially dangerous when the driver has no idea the vehicle has been in a major accident before.

"Your chances of being in a serious auto crash in your lifetime are 1 out of 2," says Jackie Gillan of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. "Those are very high odds, so you want to make sure when you're buying a used car that it's not only going to provide the transportation you need, but is also going to provide you and your family with a safe driving environment."

Creel always recommends that consumers do their homework before buying any pre-owned vehicle-especially from a private seller. "The first thing you want to do is get a CARFAX report," he says.

Herta Soman, who-because of a curbstoner-got stuck with a now failing rebuilt wreck echoes Creel's sentiment. "I wish I would have done that prior to purchasing my car-it would have saved me a lot of grief, and a lot of money."

What Is Curbstoning?

"...officials estimate that many of the cars advertised in classified ads may be curbstoned vehicles..."

Curbstoners are scam artists. State laws prohibit private citizens from selling multiple cars or vehicles other than those titled to them. Curbstoning involves individuals who ignore these laws meant to protect consumers from unlicensed, unscrupulous sellers. Frequently, they sell vehicles reputable dealers won't touch-those with hidden problems in their pasts-problems that can affect both the safety and the value of these vehicles.

All too often a consumer goes to a curbstoner thinking that they will get a better deal. They may feel less intimidated approaching an individual seller they perceive to be a neighbor versus a professional salesman. They may think they can't afford a vehicle from a reputable, reliable dealer. Unfortunately, whatever the reason for going to a private seller, shoppers who buy from them without checking the vehicle's history can end up paying too much money for a poorly rebuilt wreck, a lemon or may be even stolen vehicle.

Victims of curbstoners often end up making expensive repairs because a rolled back odometer led them to believe the vehicle was in better shape. Or, they may find themselves in a dangerous vehicle that has already been totaled due to a severe accident.

According to Larry Gamache, Director of Communications for CARFAX, "Law enforcement officials agree that many of the cars advertised in classified ads may be curbstoned vehicles. Curbstoning is nothing new, but it is now reaching epidemic proportions, which is bad news for consumers and dealers, alike. Curbstoners weave elaborate, seemingly sincere, stories to gain a buyer's confidence or pity. Usually they're variations on the same stories, such as: a relative passed-away, they are sending a child off to college, a friend or relative has asked them to sell it for them, they are getting married, moving or getting a company car, etc. By recognizing these 'tall tales,' consumers can know to say 'no.'"

Guarding Against Curbstoners

Buy from a reputable dealer -- More than 25,000 dealers nationwide subscribe to CARFAX to ensure that the vehicles they sell on their lots are safe and reliable. Through CARFAX, consumers can find a dealer and even find a car locally that meets their needs. Most CARFAX dealer subscribers even offer free copies of the Vehicle History Reports to their customers-all you need to do is ask.

But, if you still want to buy from an individual, there are ways to guard against curbstoners:
  • Ask to see the driver's license of the seller along with the car's title. If the name on the title doesn't match the name on the license, don't buy it.
  • Ask the seller for a detailed CARFAX Vehicle History Report to identify if the car has a salvage history, odometer fraud or flood damage. It will also show recent, frequent or excessive title transfers that may contradict the seller's story.
  • Take the car to a trusted mechanic. A professional inspection can uncover weld marks, water spots and uneven tire treads - all clues to a potentially unsafe vehicle.
  • Check the phone number. See if the same phone number appears in multiple ads, and make sure that you have a way to get back in touch with the car seller-not just a cell phone or pager number. Curbstoners often use them to change their locations without being caught.
  • Always be a little leery if the price that seems just too good to be true. If something feels wrong, walk away.
What Local Dealers Can Do To Curb Curbstoning
  • Be informed - Knowing what curbstoning is and where curbstoners work in your area can help you combat them by educating consumers of this illegal practice, its risks and consequences.
  • Check the classified ads - Learn what cars are most popular and in demand. Plan to increase the visibility of similar cars on your lot to make curbstoning less desirable in your community. Use CARFAX - If you aren't already, become a CARFAX Subscribing Dealer. It helps you keep undesirable vehicles out of your inventory and demonstrates to buyers that your cars are top notch.
  • Advertise - It seems simple, but a lot of dealerships are timid about placing ads. Advertising is a great way to reach consumers.
  • Participate - Getting involved in your local community lets consumers in your area get to know you, and builds a positive reputation for you and your business. Donations of cars to charity, volunteering at events and speaking to newspapers are all great ways to get involved and show your pride in the community.
  • Contact authorities - Finally, if you suspect there's a curbstoner in your area, contact the local authorities and encourage them to take action to protect consumers. These unlicensed sellers are breaking the law, plain and simple.
Be aware of it. It's illegal in plenty of states. There are numerous active FS ads here at Fred's that have been placed by curbstoners.
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Old December 18th, 2008, 14:05   #2
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ANYONE, be it a dealer or private party, found out to be curbstoning will be banned.


Thank you.
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Old December 20th, 2008, 08:52   #3
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I've been getting a lot of PMs regarding curbstoning. I'll try to clarify some things.

TDIClub already has rules against curbstoning, we just didn't have a name for it until now. If one is joining the forums just to flip cars, then they need to register as a vendor. We allow private sales, and dealers. Those people that fall in between, the ones who always seem to have a car for sale, or who buy cars on speculation and to flip them, they should all be registered as vendors as far as TDIClub is concerned.

The bottom line, as far as TDIClub is concerned, DD's definition of curbstoning is the one we are using; shameless flipping of cars with no intention of registering as a vendor with no other involvement with the club, and/or misrepresenting a car's condition.

There is a simple test one can use to determine if one falls under TDIClub's definition of being a curbstoner.

1. You are NOT a dealer and are constantly posting cars for sale on TDIClub. 99% of the members keep their cars for years and post cars for sale very infrequently.

2. In reviewing one's threads/posts, the overwhelming majority are to sell something with very little involvement in any other area of the club/forums. This is obvious of what the poster's intent for being a member is.

3. Anyone who misrepresents the condition of a car or withholds critical information about a car. Examples: botched timing belts/repairs, cars that were run on grease but not declared as such (if so how many miles), recalibrated odometers or replaced gauge clusters, any undeclared/misrepresented repairs, cars that were used as track vehicles and prepped as such (drag, ralley, or otherwise), etc.

I'll add to this post on an as needed basis but I think everyone gets the idea.

The for sale forums are here as a service to the members, not unregulated free ad space to be abused. If flipping TDIs is a hobby and one wishes to use TDIClub's for sale forums, the simplest way to protect one self is to register as a vendor. This way one has declared their intentions that they intend to sell multiple cars.

The honest people have nothing to worry about.

Thank you.

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Old December 21st, 2008, 05:57   #4
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As yet another alert (just short of a warning) don't trust Carfax or other report collecting agencies to be the be-all end-all for vehicle history.
I've purchased and owned two vehicles that had clean Carfax reports yet had signs of collision accidents and repairs.
One, my black B4 sedan, had damage that was so obvious that I questioned the (private) seller about it. He claimed no knowledge and seemed genuinely surprised when I showed him the seams and panel splices where the rear of another car had been grafted on. The price was correct for the condition and I bought it anyway, but I was at least aware of the condition.
The next was a used 2000 Odyssey that had a clean Carfax that the selling Honda dealer provided, and we independently verified. I found evidence of damage when installing an aftermarket satellite radio. Only after 6 months of our ownership did Carfax update and mention the repair. This diminished the perceived value of the van. We bought and paid for it as "clean", we sold it as "damaged and repaired".
Thanks a lot!
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Old December 21st, 2008, 08:32   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lug_Nut
As yet another alert (just short of a warning) don't trust Carfax or other report collecting agencies to be the be-all end-all for vehicle history.
I've purchased and owned two vehicles that had clean Carfax reports yet had signs of collision accidents and repairs.
One, my black B4 sedan, had damage that was so obvious that I questioned the (private) seller about it. He claimed no knowledge and seemed genuinely surprised when I showed him the seams and panel splices where the rear of another car had been grafted on. The price was correct for the condition and I bought it anyway, but I was at least aware of the condition.
The next was a used 2000 Odyssey that had a clean Carfax that the selling Honda dealer provided, and we independently verified. I found evidence of damage when installing an aftermarket satellite radio. Only after 6 months of our ownership did Carfax update and mention the repair. This diminished the perceived value of the van. We bought and paid for it as "clean", we sold it as "damaged and repaired".
Thanks a lot!
Very good point, Jonathan. I have been preaching these very same warnings about CarFax, CPO's, etc. for years.

All this stuff boils down to a great saying former president Ronald Reagan used. "Trust but, verify". Later!
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Old December 21st, 2008, 10:11   #6
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I'll 3rd the "don't trust carfax" remark: My 91 Jetta had been in some kind of front collision that resulted in a fender being replaced and the front doors forward being repainted. No mention on the carfax.

Bhtooefr had an interesting problem with the carfax of his 86 Golf: Somehow (perhaps because he just transferred the plate, or some other error at the DMV) the frontal accident with his 85 Jetta got reported on the 86's title.

Documents can lie. Repaints, newer trim pieces, welds and creases don't.

-Jason
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Old December 31st, 2008, 18:32   #7
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There are many exclusions for severe vehicle damage. If a car is totalled, but the owner repairs it....NOT THE INSURANCE COMPANY, there will be no record of it. IF the car is damaged, and isnt an insurance repair, there is no record. The only exclusion, is if said repairs occured at a dealership AND the dealership entered it into the network. THere are also many unwritten practices as well. I own a car that I bought from a client who was hit in the drivers door. The insurance company totalled it....for 2k worth of work. I bought it from her. Clean title. I carfaxed it. CLEAN. If I were dishones, I could sell it as undamaged. I clearly would not, but be careful as records often dont show collision. And NEVER show massive mechanical repair.
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Old January 10th, 2009, 04:52   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by compu_85
I'll 3rd the "don't trust carfax" remark: My 91 Jetta had been in some kind of front collision that resulted in a fender being replaced and the front doors forward being repainted. No mention on the carfax.

Bhtooefr had an interesting problem with the carfax of his 86 Golf: Somehow (perhaps because he just transferred the plate, or some other error at the DMV) the frontal accident with his 85 Jetta got reported on the 86's title.

Documents can lie. Repaints, newer trim pieces, welds and creases don't.

-Jason
been there.. done that.. had a dodge neon one time.. didn't notice till a couple months afterward, that the entire passenger side of the car had been replaced... hood, fender, doors, etc.


clean title.
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Old January 12th, 2009, 16:13   #9
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Had this happen to me about 5 years ago. Didn't know how I could be so stupid as to pickup the vehicle at night. Thankfully I only lost about $4k.

Clean Carfax (like others have said) means it is ok to go look at the car.....NOT that it is safe to buy or that everythign is okay with the car. I bought on a ebay auction and took for granted that their 'auction insurance' or 'buyer protection' would protect me if the seller misrepresented. It didn't, the auction insurance only covers certain types of things none of which I qualified for and the Paypal protections don't apply to auto sales. At least not 5 years ago.

Buyer beware! The best thing you can do is inspect the car or have a trusted tech check the car out top to bottom before you buy.

Take your time and don't let anyone rush you into a transaction.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 07:03   #10
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Another point about TDIClub's definition of curbstoning that needs clarification. There are people who think that because they are a private sale and are not making a profit, they are not 'flipping' their car and therefore not bound to the forum rules on curbstoning. Profit on a sale is arbitrary as decided by the buyer and seller. TDIClub does not recognize 'profit' (or loss) in any part of any definition of curbstoning or in any of its rules concerning selling items. It is not TDIClub's problem you bought high and are selling low, or that you have poor negotiating skills.

TDIClub's definition of 'flipping' in regards of curbstoning is simply one who uses TDIClub's forums to sell cars.

Thank you.


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Old April 5th, 2011, 20:39   #11
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The fact that reports don't always show everything is true. What I have done is use two reporting services. AutoCheck (ebay uses this service) and car fax. In Canada we also have Carproof. I was looking at a Touareg on ebay the other day and AutoCheck showed a salvage title and carfax was clean. The person selling reported the Touareg as no damage. I didn't buy it.
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 17:41   #12
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sign me up for another carfax dupe.
Bought an "Audi Assured" A4 with a clean carfax. 300 point inspection I think they claimed.
Like "no-blu-screen " above I picked up the car after work in the dark.
Car had been hit on almost every panel. they told me "bring it in Monday for a free wash and fill up"
On monday I brought it in and three men in the back hallway try to "pursued" me to resign the lease. "audi won't honor the lease" they claim, saying that they'd marked the wrong mileage per year box on the forms. I refused. I really didn't think they were going to assault me in the back of an audi dealership.
After that visit the cruise control didn't work. a hole had mysteriously appeared in the vacuum line. By the end of the lease the paint was discoloring and starting to chip and flake on the hood.
Too bad. Audi lost a customer because one of their dealers was so dishonest.
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Old September 7th, 2011, 16:00   #13
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This is just one of the reasons that I dislike the practice of "Flipping" cars especially TDI's.
I've had many opportunities to buy, fix & flip TDI's I just will not engage in that practice.
The thought of taking advantage of an owner's loss for my personal profit just turns my guts. I've had it done to me and I know how it feels.
I'm not a hero and I'm no angel. I just have a degree of self respect.
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Old August 27th, 2012, 15:10   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lug_Nut View Post
I've purchased and owned two vehicles that had clean Carfax reports yet had signs of collision accidents and repairs.
I have a car like that. On an icey day in 2002 my car failed to stop and rear-ended a freight truck. (The damage involved a new hood and front bumper, plus headlights.) I never reported the accident to anyone, so I doubt my car's history would show any evidence.
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Old September 19th, 2012, 07:50   #15
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Who should I contact if I bought a car (VW) out of state and later when I joined this club only to see that the car I bought has 110,000 more miles on it?
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