Toronto, ON, March 26, 2019– Illegal vehicle sales and odometer tampering have resulted in a 30-day jail sentence for a Mississauga man. Szymon Kozlowski, was found guilty of curbsiding—acting as a dealer without registration—contrary to the Motor Vehicles Dealers Act (MVDA), and of committing an unfair business practice—making a false, misleading or deceptive representation—in contravention of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
Evidence gathered by Investigators for OMVIC, Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, showed Kozlowski bought vehicles from private citizens between 2016 and 2017. The vehicles were then advertised by Kozlowski on Kijiji and resold, some of which had odometers that had been rolled back. “In one case, Kozlowski sold an unsuspecting consumer a 2008 Toyota with an odometer that read 56,753 kilometers. In reality, the car had more than 309,800 kilometers on it,” explained Don Cousens, OMVIC’s Manager of Investigations.
“Consumers are understandably angry when they buy a car anticipating it will provide reliable service for years, only to discover it may actually be near the end of its useful life,” stated Cousens. “Considering this was a first offence for curbsiding, the sentence demonstrates that the courts take these issues of consumer harm very seriously.”
At his recent sentencing hearing in Mississauga Provincial Offences Court, Kozlowski was convicted on four counts of curbsiding and four counts of committing an unfair business practice. He was taken into custody to begin serving a 30-day jail sentence. Kozlowski was also placed on probation for two years.
Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Dealers Act requires ALL vehicle dealers and salespeople to be registered with OMVIC. Curbsiders are illegal, unlicensed dealers. Just as curbsiders commonly misrepresent themselves—often posing as private sellers—they frequently misrepresent the vehicles they sell; many are undisclosed rebuilt wrecks or are odometer-tampered.
While curbsiders commonly pose as private sellers, many sell from small automotive-related businesses like repair centres or body shops. If a consumer is unsure whether a business selling vehicles is registered, they should search OMVIC’s website, or ask to see the seller’s OMVIC licence. If they are unable to produce one, walk away!
Curbsiders often use one or more of the following tactics to dupe car buyers:
- the vehicle is not registered to seller, or, has only been registered to the seller for a short period of time
- the vehicle is priced below market value
- the seller doesn’t provide the mandatory Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP), or provides a UVIP that has been tampered with (e.g. lien or mileage info removed) or with missing pages
- the seller refuses to allow an inspection by purchaser’s mechanic
- the vehicle is not plated and/or insured; therefore, a test-drive is not possible
- the seller refuses to provide a receipt or proof of purchase
For more information on how to avoid curbsiders click here. To report a suspected curbsider, call 1-888-NO-CURBS (662-8727) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can be reported anonymously.
Rolled-back odometers are rarely an issue with vehicles sold by OMVIC-Registered Dealers, in part, because the possible ramifications can be severe; however, odometers are frequently problematic with vehicles sold by curbsiders and even by some dishonest private sellers.
Devices capable of reprogramming the odometer in many of today’s computerized vehicles are readily available online for a few hundred dollars. As well, unscrupulous individuals advertise “odometer correction services” on many online marketplaces. Unfortunately, these easily accessible methods mean vehicles with rolled-back odometers are increasingly offered for sale online. Therefore, consumers buying a vehicle privately must be extra vigilant.
Identifying a vehicle with an altered odometer can be very difficult; however, there are steps consumers can take that may help spot them:
- Utilize Reports that Contain Historical Odometer Information/Readings—A Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) available from ServiceOntario or a CarFax Canada history report may contain historical odometer readings. Carefully review these reports before agreeing to turn over any money to a private seller. Note: Private sellers in Ontario are required by law to provide a UVIP to the purchaser; however, a purchaser may want to obtain his/her own. OMVIC is aware of instances in which a seller altered a UVIP to remove odometer or lien information.
Additionally, as the odometer readings reported on the UVIP are unverified, minor discrepancies (i.e. a reported reading that is slightly higher than what is shown on the odometer) can exist and do not indicate an actual rollback.
- Have the Vehicle Inspected—A pre-purchase inspection by an experienced mechanic/technician may uncover evidence (e.g. unusual wear) that indicates a roll-back. An inspection can also alert a buyer to mechanical issues the seller did not disclose or was not aware of.
- Know the tell-tale signs— Vehicles with rolled-back odometers can display signs of advanced wear that are inconsistent with the supposed mileage. Depending on the mileage, this could include:
- Worn upholstery or steering wheel
- Worn suspension components
- Pitted/sand-blasted looking windshield
- Worn rubber pad(s) on brake/gas/clutch pedal(s)
OMVIC (Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council) administers and enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) on behalf of the
Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. OMVIC maintains a fair and informed vehicle sales marketplace by regulating dealers and salespersons, regularly inspecting Ontario's 8,000 dealerships and 30,000 salespeople, maintaining a complaint line for consumers and conducting investigations and prosecutions of industry misconduct and illegal sales (curbsiding). OMVIC is also responsible for administering the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund on behalf of its
Board of Trustees.
OMVIC makes information public related to charges and convictions of registrants (dealers/salespeople) and curbsiders. Click here to view.
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