UPDATED, READ ME: Am I a Curbstoner? And, what IS curbstoning?

dieseldorf

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 11, 2000
Location
MA
TDI
ex- 1996 wagon, ex-2000 Jetta
Leonard has addressed this concern in the past. It's taking place more and more here at Fred's.



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.
 

BKmetz

Administrator, Member #10
Staff member
Joined
Sep 25, 1997
Location
Illinois
TDI
2015 Passat, titanium beige, 6MT
ANYONE, be it a dealer or private party, found out to be curbstoning will be banned.


Thank you.
 

BKmetz

Administrator, Member #10
Staff member
Joined
Sep 25, 1997
Location
Illinois
TDI
2015 Passat, titanium beige, 6MT
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.

:)
 

Lug_Nut

TDIClub Enthusiast, Pre-Forum Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 20, 1998
Location
Sterling, Massachusetts. USA
TDI
none, 2014 Chevy Volt, 1988 Bolens DGT1700H
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!:mad:
 

Harvieux

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Aug 15, 1998
Location
Whittier,CA-USA
TDI
06 A5 Pkg.2 w/navi & ASEP
Lug_Nut said:
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!:mad:
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!
 

compu_85

Gadget Guy
Joined
Sep 29, 2003
Location
Springfield VA
TDI
1999.5 Jetta GLX TDI
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
 

mrchill

TDIClub Enthusiast, Super Secret Diesel Ninja Vend
Joined
Sep 16, 2003
Location
MASS! home of THE WORLD SERIES CHAMPION RED SOX! x
TDI
96 B4v red \ 98 Mk3 green\98 Mk3 Jetta black\ 99 Mk4 Jetta green x2\ 99 Mk4 Golf silver x2\ 99 Mk4 Jetta black\ 97 B4 sedan green\04 JSW gold\03 JSW silver
know state law

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.
 

J double R

Fail Train Conductor
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
Location
Wilmington, North Carolina
TDI
'00 Golf 4 door
compu_85 said:
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.
 

no-blue-screen

TDI Nut
Joined
Feb 9, 2006
Location
Maryland
TDI
TDI
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.
 

BKmetz

Administrator, Member #10
Staff member
Joined
Sep 25, 1997
Location
Illinois
TDI
2015 Passat, titanium beige, 6MT
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.


:)
 

gerpeters

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 29, 2007
Location
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
TDI
2002 Jetta TDI and 2003 Jetta TDI
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.
 

cyberemp

Active member
Joined
Nov 18, 2008
Location
San Fran bay area, Ca. U.S.A
TDI
2003 jetta TDI
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.
 

Herm TDI

Vendor
Joined
Nov 21, 2001
Location
Richmond, Maine...The far side of Witsend
TDI
2002 Golf GLS Malone Stage 3, P+520 nozzles, 11MM Inj pump, Sachs VR6 clutch, Stelth Race Pipe, Immo Deleat, EGR Deleat
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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booksgamesvideos

Troy Heagy troll/alias Banned
Joined
Aug 20, 2012
Location
Santa Ana(CA) and Lancaster(PA)
TDI
beetle
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.
 

Dan Crawford

New member
Joined
Sep 1, 2012
Location
Madison WI
TDI
2 '96 passat
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?
 

MikeS_18

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 18, 2005
Location
Bow, NH
TDI
'03 Jetta Wagon, '13 Passat SE, '64 Ford Econoline
Here is another example to be aware of. And this is the true meaning of curbstoning: I had a guy who was selling a car for a bit below what the going rate was. The car passed the carfax, was in nice shape, but he was selling it for a friend.

He had a signed title - signed by the previous owner - maybe - and I could have bought it. But when I pressed him to allow me to simply call the previous owner to insure that he had permission to sell it, he got all uptight and said the owner didn't want to put up with all the BS and that I should be on my way.

Gee, how rude of me to verify who the rightful owner was...

Anyway, I suspect he didn't steal the car - I went to the guys house and he had his car there and gave me his name and email and cellphone etc. - but I suspect he bought the car and didn't want to pay tax and register it, so he was passing the title straight to me. THAT is what curbstoning is.

Obviously I moved on, but it took me a bit to sniff this one out and now I'm more paranoid than ever...thanks Mr Curbstoning Jerk.
 

nicklockard

Torque Dorque
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Location
Arizona
TDI
2010 Touareg Tdi w/factory Tow PCKG
Please continue to report all suspect curb stoners to me or Compu. We now have an automatic infraction point system.

Thanks to the community membership for all your efforts :)
 

peterdaniel

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2008
Location
Campbell, CA
TDI
2003 Jetta GL 5 spd TDi, 2006 Jetta pk2. Both of these are Campanella white with black leather interiors
And might I ask, what exactly defines a curbstoner? Is it someone who buys a car, titles it and registers in his own name and then perhaps decides he wants to go in a different direction?

What is this automatic infraction system? What are the points awarded for and what are the definitions? Or are they whatever "we" feel it should be?
Does the person get to defend what they are accused of or do they just get banned out of the blue without explanation? Do they get to see the accusations and accusers against them?
I think these are very valid points. "We" certainly wouldn't want to appear unfair as if anything other than legitimate violations are being considered.
 

VW_Lupo_TD

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Location
Columbus, OH
TDI
4er Golf
also wanted to add that there is now a website that will allow you to find the appropriate DMV Investigations Division which you can report curbstoners or other criminal activities to : http://www.stopcurbstoning.com/report-curbstoning/report-curbstoning-in-the-usa

most of these places still use stone age means of communication like phone and fax
numbers - but at least it is a start. one day they might add an email address where one can send all pertaining infos to in order to report a curbstoner.

I recently reported a gentleman selling a car in Cali without his name in the title and in the aabsence of a dealer license 0 naturally he was selling the car as 1-owner PRIVATE SELLER on ebay.

i had to send a pdf with the communication in which he replied to my question as to whose name the title is in and he stating he buys and sells cars but has no dealer license to 4 different CA DMV Investigations offices before one number even worked ;-)
So clearly the authorities are not very receptive to the general public bringing them work ;-)

ebay of course is also deaf in regards to this manner, as their reporting systems seems to only provide the illusion for the public with their reporting system, which
has never taken down a single ad.

maybe we should just start posting VIN numbers for cars that are being offered by curbstoners ?

also noteworthy : https://faxzero.com/ also you 5 free faxes a day with the possibility of attaching word docs and pdfs.
(since i have not owned a fax since 1986 and imagine most people here do not even remember what a fax is) ;-)
 
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gerpeters

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 29, 2007
Location
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
TDI
2002 Jetta TDI and 2003 Jetta TDI
also noteworthy : https://faxzero.com/ also you 5 free faxes a day with the possibility of attaching word docs and pdfs.
(since i have not owned a fax since 1986 and imagine most people here do not even remember what a fax is) ;-)
I work as a business consultant and you would be surprised at how many business still rely on faxing every day. Faxing is still widely being used around the work including US and Canada.
 

nicklockard

Torque Dorque
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Location
Arizona
TDI
2010 Touareg Tdi w/factory Tow PCKG
http://forums.tdiclub.com/showpost.php?p=4154592&postcount=17

Some here get unhappy if people flip cars. But if you do it legally, I don't have a problem with you. and if you want to come here only to sell a car, I'm not sure what the problem is either.
It's also about disclosure and fair dealing. If you're flipping cars for "side business" but pretending to be a personal, casual seller, that's deceitful and unethical--curbstoning.
 

kitko100

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2013
Location
Central PA
TDI
2001 Jetta GL TDI
ive seen a lot of scams on cars.com and craigslist. its always someone usually a vet trying to sell a car fast because they are being sent over seas thats red flag 1. red flag #2 they wont want to talk on the phone only email or text so watch your back interweb shoppers.
 

Perfectreign

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2013
Location
Los Angeles
TDI
2000 Jetta GLS 5-speed
My mom asked me some years back to sell her '98 Dodge. I put it on Craigslist at. $4000 and quickly recieved an offer for much more. The person was to send me a cashiers check for $8500, and i would send him the difference.

If course, I knew the scam already, so agreed to the check. It looked real, and was even drawn on a real bank, just not an existing account.

I scanned it for future reference.

 
D

dtrvler

Guest
It is important to do your diligent research every time you buy a car. Some here make it sound like dealers are safe to buy from and individuals are not. I wish it was that simple. But its not. For example...before one buys an A5 2006 Jetta with the BRM and either trans there are some questions which simply have to be answered by a pre purchase inspector regardless of the selling entity. Is the DMF rattling? Is the DSG shifting properly?Is the cam worn? Is the clutch worn out? Is the EGR Cooler leaking exhaust gas? Is the turbo working properly? Etc. Its worth the money to get things cked out. Dealers are not necessarily safe places to buy a car. Just be careful and get the carfax and a prepurchase inspection. imho.
 
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TDINOTGTI

Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2013
Location
New York City
TDI
2011 Golf TDI
I consider myself so be a seasoned used car buyer having bought dozens of cars over the years both from private individuals and dealers. A few years back I bought a beautiful BMW 325ci coupe and thought I was doing my dd while checking it out both in person and by using Carfax. It turns out thanks to a good friend of mine he pointed out that something about the front end that just didn't seem right and as weeks went by I started to take notice. I rechecked the Carfax just to make sure that there were no accidents reported now follow me here the key word is reported. So I decided to run a check with another company called Autocheck and lo and behold it showed that the car was involved in a front end collision. Of course the dealer did not want to know me by then and I was going to sue but just decided to live with it until I traded it in for another vehicle. These car check companies are no substitute for a qualified auto body shop to check the car out for you. GLTA and remember it is always buyer beware!
 

duteman2

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2002
Location
Connecticut
TDI
'02 GOLF, '04 Passat Wagon, 5-speed, BSD, our 8th. and 9th. TDI's
Just to be sure...

I went back to my ad to make sure I was completely frank about the 4Motion Passat wagon I'm selling. I have no desire to misrepresent anything, and I guess "Project ... parts car" and... "sat for two years"... and "not running"... is pretty straightforward! No question CarFax is not perfect, but it's right most of the time and all buyers should spend a few bucks to get the report. Buyer beware, for sure.
 
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