DENVER (KDVR) — You find a quick and easy deal online to buy a car, and the seller asks you to meet him or her at a random location to make a cash or electronic transaction.
You drive away and learn that the car is riddled with mechanical problems. This is the hallmark of a scam known as “curbstoning.”
Professional auto dealers are seeing more victims of the scam in Colorado over the past six months. California-based Sell Max told FOX 31 the company has encountered nearly 30 cars in Denver so far this year that turned out to have serious problems.
“When they tell us how they acquired the car, everything starts clicking and we realize they were curbstoned,” Sell Max founder Sean Pour said.
Curbstoning occurs when the scammer sells the car without a dealer license, usually through social media ads, making sure to conceal any mechanical issues. The biggest red flag is that the seller never transfers the car into their name before making a sale.
“They’re good at what they do. A lot of times [buyers] don’t even realize they’ve been victims of curbstoning, so they’ll call us with problem cars that maybe they just bought last month and the transmission is bad on the car,” Pour said.
Also called car flipping, curbstoning scammers target car buyers who want a fast, simple deal. Keep in mind, the low price and reduced paperwork mean you may be sacrificing the safety and peace of mind you get from a legitimate dealer.
Alejandro, a rideshare driver, told FOX31 that a car that has hidden problems that result in expensive repairs could harm his ability to do his job, so he is wary of any sellers who seem disreputable.
“They lowball really bad to get rid of it, there might be something wrong with the engine, might be a salvaged car,” he said.
To protect yourself against vehicle scams make sure the seller has the title and the name on that document matches the name on the seller’s driver’s license.
Look up the seller online to see if they have multiple listings and check the vehicle history.