Unlicensed dealers who sold cars with altered odometers fined
Consumer Protection has prosecuted three men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, who systematically changed odometer readings on numerous vehicles they sold to unsuspecting members of the public.
On 29 January 2016, they were fined a total of $30,000 by the Armadale Magistrates Court.
A 21 year old man from Southern River was fined $16,000 for unlicensed dealing, wilfully arranging an odometer reading to be altered and then wilfully misrepresenting the odometer readings to buyers, in breach of the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act. He had bought 23 vehicles and sold 22 vehicles between October 2013 and April 2015 without a licence.
In eight cases, he represented to buyers that the vehicles had travelled about half of their true distance. In the worst case, he represented that a 2007 Nissan Navarra utility had travelled 87,182 kilometres when it had travelled 240,092 kilometres.
A 26 year old man, also from Southern River, was fined $10,000 for unlicensed dealing and wilfully misrepresenting odometer readings to buyers. He had purchased 25 vehicles and sold 23 of them between September 2013 and March 2015 without a licence. Six of the vehicles were the subject of misrepresentations about the distance they had travelled. In some of those cases he represented to buyers that the vehicles had travelled only about a third their true distance. In the worst case, he represented that a 2004 Nissan Patrol had travelled 130,000 kilometres when it had travelled 307,560 kilometres.
A 30 year old man from Gosnells was fined $4,000. He had bought 14 vehicles and sold 13 vehicles between December 2013 and March 2015 without a licence. He represented to a buyer that a 2005 Subaru Impreza, had travelled 84,000 kilometres when in fact it had travelled 218,000 kilometres.
The three men were granted spent convictions and ordered to pay court costs of $506 each.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said this was the worst case of deception by backyard dealers the Department has seen in recent years.
“Selling a large quantity of motor vehicles over a long period of time without a licence is a serious offence in itself, but to embark on a wilful campaign to deceive consumers by winding back odometer readings is reprehensible,” Mr Hillyard said.
“These offences were uncovered during a general investigation into odometer tampering in the motor vehicle industry.
“The convictions in this case stand as a warning to others who may be engaging in deceptive practices such as winding back odometer readings. There are now many methods by which the true odometer reading of a vehicle can be established, so it’s only a matter of time before the deception is discovered and prosecutions will quickly follow.
“This case provides another good reason why consumers should be wary of buying cars privately and should never deal with people known to be unlicensed motor vehicle dealers. Illegal operators should be dobbed in to Consumer Protection so we can put a stop to their activities.”
Consumers can check whether a car dealer is licensed by doing a search on the Consumer Protection website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp/licencesearch. Unlicensed car dealers can be reported by emailing email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
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