July 2013
Consumer Line
If you are having problems with this message, click here to view it in your browser July 2013

INDUSTRY NEWS

Courts Crack Down on Illegal Vehicle Sellers

Penalties handed down to two recently convicted curbsiders have demonstrated the seriousness of this offence and recognition of the danger these illegal vehicle sellers can pose.

In one case, Emerald Financial Services Inc. and owner Joshua Zachery aka Mehran Amini aka Mike Zachery aka Sal Aghani aka Saaed Joshaghani were convicted on 42 counts of acting as a dealer without being registered (curbsiding). Evidence presented at trial showed the accused purchased late-model high mileage pick-up trucks in Western Canada, transported them to Ontario, rolled back the odometers, and sold the trucks to unsuspecting consumers in the GTA.

In passing sentence Her Worship Agnew fined the company $5,000 on each count ($210,000) and fined Zachery $2,500 on each count ($105,000). With the 25% Victim Fine Surcharge (VFS) applied, the fines totalled $393,750.

Within weeks of the court’s decision Zachery had been charged again by OMVIC for allegedly curbsiding 30 more vehicles and he is also further charged under the Consumer Protection Act (related to further allegations of odometer tampering). York Regional Police have also charged Zachery for fraud in relation to the alleged odometer tampering. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

In another case a Windsor curbsider was sentenced to 30 days in jail for the illegal sale of motorcycles. George Marius Chifor, operating as Chifor Racing, pled guilty to three global counts of curbsiding.

The court heard evidence that Chifor (described as a motorcycle enthusiast) had a registered business to buy and sell motorcycle apparel and accessories; however, he was trading directly in motorcycles. OMVIC’s investigation showed Chifor had an inventory of over 60 motorcycles and various parts. He had placed ads on Kijiji for the bikes; interested parties where then directed to one of two locations where they could view or test drive the motorcycle.

In passing judgement the court sentenced Chifor to 15 days in custody on the first two charges and a suspended sentence was ordered for the third charge. The jail terms were to be served consecutively.

According to Terry O’Keefe, OMVIC Manager of Communications, these rulings should sound a warning to all curbsiders, “The message is clear; this is a regulated industry - dealers must be registered and consumers must be protected”.

CONSUMER PROTECTION

Free Educational Seminars for Car Buyers

Thinking of buying a car? Do you know what your rights are? What questions should you ask a dealer or private seller? Do you know who to turn to for help?  For the answers to these questions and more, OMVIC offers free Vehicle Buying Seminars throughout the province to consumer groups, first-time buyers and new Canadians, as part of its mandate to protect and educate Ontario consumers.

Topics covered include:

  • OMVIC’s role as the industry regulator;
  • Consumer rights and protections (including the information dealers must provide in advertising and contracts);
  • The danger posed by curbsiders (illegal sellers);
  • General vehicle buying tips; and
  • Understanding the buying process.

If you’re interested in having OMVIC present this seminar within your organization or community, or for more information, contact us at omvic@omvic.on.ca or by telephone at 1-800-943-6002 ext. 3342.


HAVE YOU HEARD?

Steer Clear of Flood-Damaged Vehicles

If you’re currently shopping for a used car, recent weather events should have you on the alert for a danger you might not normally consider: flood-damaged vehicles.

The recent storms and resulting floods in Alberta and Ontario damaged many vehicles. While mandatory Branding Programs are in place in both provinces to keep most of these flood-damaged vehicles off the road, some are still likely to find their way back into the marketplace. As well, there may be some flood-damaged vehicles that were uninsured; these vehicles could be dried out, cleaned up, sold off or traded in by unscrupulous owners.

Flood-damaged vehicle 

Photo courtesy CTV

So what’s the big deal with flood-damaged vehicles?

Flood-damaged vehicles may have suffered from water damage to seats and carpeting but it is the unseen problems that are the most dangerous.

Water and sensitive electronic systems don’t mix well. Often, the corrosion caused by flood water takes months, even years to show up; but if that corrosion affects vital safety or electrical components, the results can be catastrophic: air bags might not deploy in a collision, engines could shut off at highway speeds, steering could fail – these vehicles are not safe for the road.

How do you avoid buying these vehicles?

Protect yourself. Buying from a registered dealer offers numerous safeguards; here’s how. The Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) requires that registered dealers in Ontario provide full disclosure of a vehicle’s history, past use and current condition including:

  • if a vehicle has been branded as irreparable, salvage or rebuilt, or if it has been declared a total loss
  • if a vehicle has sustained any damage caused by immersion in water that has penetrated to the level of at least the interior floorboards”
  • if a vehicle has been registered in another jurisdiction (such as Alberta or New Jersey), and if so, where (as it may have been a flood-stricken area)
  • any other material fact ( information that, if known, could cause the buyer to change their mind about purchasing a particular vehicle)

Note: When you buy from a registered dealer, know that you are protected by OMVIC, the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act and the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund. None of these protections apply if you do purchase from a private seller.

Visit OMVIC’s website for a complete list of all required disclosures.

Buying privately? This is definitely the riskiest way to purchase. In order to protect yourself you must become educated. Here’s a few tips:

  • Always ask to view the Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) – the seller is required to provide this to you by law!
  • Inspect a vehicle in the daylight before you buy it
  • Purchase a vehicle history report
  • Look for signs of water damage (refer to this OMVIC bulletin for tips)
  • Have the vehicle inspected by a licensed mechanic
  • Take the vehicle for a road test (including on the highway)
  • Ensure the vehicle is registered in the name of the person selling it
  • Learn how to spot the common tactics of curbsiders – illegal sellers who often trade in accident-damaged, salvaged and odometer tampered vehicles, while posing as private sellers
EXTRAS
- Auto Talk
Definitions

The following definitions are provided to better help consumers understand terms that are commonly used in the auto industry:

Contract

A legal agreement between two or more parties, each promising to fulfill certain obligations. When buying from a registered dealer, contracts for the sale or lease of motor vehicles must be in writing and are binding once signed (there is no cooling-off period).

Registered Dealer (Registrant)

A motor vehicle dealer or salesperson who is registered with OMVIC under the MVDA

Curbsider 

Curbsiders are unlicensed dealers in the province of Ontario. These individuals are in the business of selling cars but often pose as private sellers. Commonly, the vehicles they sell are misrepresented, accident-damaged, odometer-tampered, stolen or have liens

Lien

Any claim on a vehicle as security for the payment of a debt. If you borrow money from a bank to buy a car, the bank will register a lien on the vehicle

Deposit 

Money that is paid towards the purchase or lease of a vehicle with the full amount being due at a later date.

 

Be sure to check out the next Consumer Line as we’ll be introducing a glossary of terms related to motor vehicle advertisements and contracts.



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Consumer Line is a monthly publication by the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council - OMVIC, and is sent to you because you have requested it. If you have received this e-mail in error, or prefer not to receive more issues, you can unsubscribe at any time by following the link below.

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OMVIC is the self-management organization of the motor vehicle dealer industry and administers the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act -- a public protection statute -- on behalf of the Ministry of Consumer Services. OMVIC's mandate is to maintain a fair and informed marketplace by ensuring registration of motor vehicle dealers and salespeople, regularly inspecting all of Ontario's 8,800 dealerships, maintaining a complaint line for consumers and conducting investigations. OMVIC also administers the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.