FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. – A used car dealership in Federal Heights is accused of scamming customers into thinking they’re buying low mileage vehicles when they’re not.
Naim Kargar and Sedeq Karger have been charged with forgery and theft from an alleged odometer tampering scheme.
The brothers own and operate AFG Auto Sales near Federal Blvd. and 92nd Ave. According to the arrest affidavit, they are accused of erasing 2,750,207 miles from 29 vehicles they sold between April 2015 and April 2018.
With the mileage they rolled back, a single vehicle could be driven from New York City to Los Angeles and back 481 times, it could be taken on 108 road trips around the world, or it could make 11 one-way trips to the moon.
“The fastest growing crime trend in America is, in fact, odometer fraud,” Skyler McKinley with AAA Colorado told FOX31.
According to AAA, about 190,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. each year have had their mileage illegally clocked back.
“Digital odometers are much more easily replaced or defrauded,” McKinley said. “Now you can plug a computer in and as long as you’re sufficiently technologically advanced you could fool the car.”
A scammer who does not calibrate the new odometer correctly will cause the “check engine” light to repeatedly come on.
According to arrest records, the alleged string of fraud at AFT Auto Sales came to light after a mechanic noticed more wear and tear than usual on one of the cars they sold. It was a 1996 Subaru Outback Legacy that supposedly had 122,000 miles.
The vehicle’s owner “took the vehicle to a mechanic for some work and the mechanic told him that he believed the mileage on the vehicle is over 300,000,” the affidavit stated.
Investigators determined from the auction invoice that when AFG purchased the vehicle in January 2015 it had 312,979 miles. When AFG sold the vehicle in April 2015 it had 122,000 miles. The odometer had 190,979 miles erased.
According to police, when Sedeq Kargar was questioned about the discrepancy he said “that he remembered replacing the odometer ‘because the needle was jumping.’ He said that he did everything legally and he put a sticker on the driver’s side door.”
Under Federal law, whenever an odometer needs replacing, the vehicle owner is required to place a sticker inside the door with the date and mileage on the original odometer at the time of service.
Investigators say they did not find a sticker inside the door of the Subaru or any of the 28 other vehicles Kargar is accused of tampering with.
“Even if the car by some miracle is able to run a million miles, if you’ve got a hundred thousand miles taken off the odometer that’s money out of your pocket,” McKinley said.
He suggests when buying a used car you should do as much research as possible and consult with a trusted mechanic.
“Always, always request a Carfax or a vehicle information report,” he said.
According to AAA, many dealers will provide a Carfax report for you when you are ready to purchase the car. Some dishonest car dealerships can tamper with the reports to hide information they do not want customers to see.
AAA suggests paying the fee to obtain the car’s history report on your own to make sure it is accurate.
“You actually have to be a vigilant buyer though. You actually have to sort through and look at the mileage,” McKinley said. “Nine out of ten times just doing your homework will prevent this from ever happening to you.”AlertMe