Most of us have had the experience of buying something only to find that it doesn’t look or work as advertised. Before you buy, remember to exercise the principle of “Buyer Beware”: meaning that, as the buyer, you take on the risk and responsibility of checking to make sure that the product for sale really IS what it’s been advertised to be. If the loss is just a few dollars, you can write it off as the price of one of Life’s lessons. But if the item purchased is a vehicle, the loss can be in the thousands of dollars; in one recent RPS investigation, the dollar loss was $45,000.
In recent weeks, the Regina Police Service has conducted a number of investigations and laid charges in cases of vehicle-related fraud and theft. Here are some common scenarios:
- Odometer rollback on a used vehicle to falsify the wear on the vehicle. The vehicle is then sold privately for a profit.
- Vehicles with tampered or removed/replaced Vehicle Identification Number (or VIN). VIN is replaced and the vehicle gets registered, showing no issues.
- Selling stolen vehicles to buyers. Having registration is not proof of ownership.
If an innocent buyer purchases such vehicles, they can find themselves out thousands of dollars with no customer service desk to receive a complaint; the criminals are gone and so is the cash. The best “cure” for this complaint is prevention. There are ways buyers can protect themselves against this type of fraud. Prospective buyers can access reports and records, such as searching a vehicle using the VIN on a public CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) site: http://app.cpic-cipc.ca/English/searchformvin.cfm or Carfax https://www.carfax.ca/, or a reputable auto repair shop which can access the VIN. If a vehicle, offered for sale by a private individual, looks like a deal that’s too good to be true, use a little healthy skepticism and ask questions BEFORE you buy.