Mehran Amini, 58, of Toronto has been sentenced to 300 days in prison after being found guilty of acting as a motor vehicle dealer without registration (curbsiding), in contravention of Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA). This is in addition to a 450-day sentence meted out to Amini on similar charges only two months ago.
The court found Amini operated an “elaborate scheme” in which he bought high-mileage vehicles from individuals in Ontario in 2013 and sold them with much lower odometer readings to unsuspecting buyers in Manitoba and Alberta. Evidence presented by OMVIC, Ontario’s vehicle sales regulator, proved Amini purchased the vehicles using several aliases and the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Once transported to Manitoba, he obtained new Manitoba title documents for the vehicles by manufacturing false bills of sale that showed odometer readings significantly lower than the readings on file with the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario. “Mehran Amini acted deceitfully,” stated Michael Rothe, Director of Legal Services for OMVIC. “He harmed not only those who purchased the misrepresented vehicles, but also damaged public confidence by falsifying government documents.”
According to OMVIC, Amini has a long history of this type of behaviour and has been convicted twice previously. In 2013 fines of $393,000 were levied against Amini and the company he used to sell 42 vehicles with tampered odometers to unsuspecting Ontarians. In January 2016 he was sentenced to 450 days imprisonment for curbsiding and selling vehicles with rolled-back odometers in Ontario.
“These most recent jail sentences are two of the longest ever handed out for illegal vehicle sales in Ontario,” explained Rothe. “And because the court saw fit to order them to be served consecutively, the result is a period of incarceration for Mr. Amini of 750 days – nearly 25 months.”
Amini has appealed all three convictions. His request for bail and release from custody pending appeal was denied; he remains incarcerated.
The 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 accident-damaged, rebuilt write-offs or odometer-tampered.
“It is vital car buyers understand when they’re protected, and when they’re not,” explained Terry O’Keefe, Director of Communications and Education for OMVIC. “Since curbsiders are not registered with OMVIC, consumers who purchase from them are deemed to have conducted a transaction with a private seller and therefore do not have access to Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund.”
Note: 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 that a business selling vehicles is registered, they should conduct a search on OMVIC’s website, or ask to see the seller’s OMVIC licence. If they are unable to produce one, walk away!
How to Spot a Curbsider
Curbsiders often use one or more of the following tactics to dupe car buyers:
- Vehicle not registered to seller or only registered to seller for short period
- Vehicle priced below market value
- 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
- Doesn’t provide vehicle history report (CarProof or CARFAX)
- Refuses inspection by purchaser’s mechanic
- Vehicle often not plated and/or uninsured; therefore test-drive not possible
- Refuses to provide receipt or proof of purchase
To report a suspected curbsider, call 1-888-NO-CURBS (662-8727) or email email@example.com. OMVIC maintains a list of convicted curbsiders here.