Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)

Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)

October 14, 2010 14:00 ET

Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council Warns Consumers to Avoid Curbsiders and Fraudsters by Buying Vehicles Only From Ontario-Registered Dealers

OMVIC Chief Investigator Outlines Six Important Signs to Look for in Unregulated Online Marketplaces

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 14, 2010) -

Editors Note: There is a photo and a video associated with this Press Release.

Attention: All News, Automotive, Consumer Interest Editors.

The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) is arming consumers with six signs to look for to avoid curbsiders and other issues related to used vehicle sales, on unregulated online marketplaces. OMVIC is launching an aggressive province-wide public awareness campaign to alert consumers.

It can be difficult to distinguish legitimate private sellers from curbsiders in free online classified sites. Provincial legislation in Ontario offers protection for vehicle sales between consumers and Ontario-registered dealers, but it does not apply to private sales. Ontario-registered dealers are listed at www.buywithconfidence.ca or can be identified by the "Ontario-Registered Dealer" blue and yellow door decal.

"Curbsiders and fraudsters love sites like Kijiji and Craigslist, because they can pose as private sellers and run their operations under the radar. Ontario consumers need to be vigilant, because consumer protection does not apply to private sales," says Carey Smith, Director of Investigations for OMVIC.

"The vehicles on these free classified sites do not often come certified or with service or vehicle history reports," says Smith. "We just completed an investigation of 115 ads on Kijiji and Craigslist and half of the vehicles were uncertified and had no service records, among other issues."

"Red flags should go up if someone tells you they're selling a vehicle on behalf of a spouse's friend – or if the seller has moved out of province, but the vehicle is in Ontario. If it sounds fishy, it likely is." Out of the reviewed 115 vehicle ads on Kijiji and Craigslist, 19 sellers claimed they were offering the vehicles on behalf of others. If a consumer purchases a vehicle from someone other than the vehicle owner, the owner can reclaim that vehicle.

Curbsiders rip off consumers by misrepresenting vehicles. Fraudsters don't always have a vehicle for sale, but are after your money. "Do not continue negotiating if a seller asks for a deposit, requests you to send money or asks for banking or credit card information," adds Smith. "While OMVIC does not investigate fraud cases involving private sales or sales outside Ontario, these issues are very real possibilities and consumers should protect themselves."

"The only way to minimize the chance of becoming a victim of fraud when buying a used vehicle is to purchase it from an Ontario-registered dealer," says the former police detective who now heads a team of OMVIC forensic investigators. Ontario-registered dealers pay into the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund to cover certain issues that cannot be resolved. Consumers who have been wronged may be eligible for up to a maximum $45,000 from the Compensation Fund for vehicles purchased from Ontario-registered dealers.

By law, Ontario-registered dealers must disclose to buyers a vehicle's full history, including any major repair work and accidents. They must also provide all-in pricing in advertising among a list of requirements that can be found on www.omvic.on.ca and www.buywithconfidence.ca.

John Wallischek, General Manager of Auto Showplace, a large Ontario dealership, calls OMVIC's blue and yellow door decal "the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for used vehicle sales. Ontario-registered dealers want a professional industry. We don't want to be associated with curbsiders and fraudsters. We must abide by conditions and we all pay into the Compensation Fund to cover consumer issues that cannot be resolved. It's good for us and great for consumers."

Smith offers these six suggestions to avoid curbsiders and fraudsters on unregulated sites such as Craigslist and Kijiji:

  1. Look out for unusual or "fishy" stories. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Ask if the vehicle is certified and e-tested, and request to see all the documentation.
  3. Ask for a landline or work number to validate the seller is who he or she claims to be.
  4. Ask to see the vehicle's ownership registration. If the seller's name does not appear on the registration, do not buy the vehicle.
  5. View the vehicle before you make any type of payment.
  6. Meet sellers at their residence or place of work, not at malls or out-of-the-way parking lots. You want to know the seller is the person he or she claims to be

Says Smith, "Your antennae should go up if the vehicle is priced to move at lower than market value. A curbsider looks for a quick hit. And, watch out for exotic cars. Curbsiders like to re-build and tamper with these types of cars, so they're not likely to be as valuable as you think." He also explains that "snoozers" can pose problems, too, by making such claims as a vehicle has never been driven much in the winter. These are all claims that make vehicles attractive, but there is no way to prove these claims are true or false.

In 2008, the Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario conducted a study of 12,410 vehicles advertised for sale through online ads. Of the postings, 2,066 were placed by curbsiders. "The rip off here," concludes Smith, "is that one of every four car ads was booked by a curbsider."

About OMVIC:

Created in 1997, OMVIC (www.omvic.on.ca) regulates motor vehicle dealers in Ontario and enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) on behalf of the Ministry of Consumer Services. OMVIC maintains a fair, and informed vehicle sales marketplace by regulating dealers and salespersons, regularly inspecting Ontario's 8,200 dealerships and 22,000 salespeople, maintaining a complaint line for consumers and conducting investigations. OMVIC is also responsible for administering the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund on behalf of its Board of Trustees.

About the Research:

The qualitative research was conducted between September 30 and October 6, 2010. Four mystery shoppers posed as vehicle buyers and used a list of 11 questions to ask each seller. Questions included if the vehicle was certified, if the seller could offer a vehicle history report and service records, and if their contact number was their cell phone. The buyer also had questions to answer following the conversation with the seller including whether they were asked for a deposit to hold the vehicle or asked for banking or credit card information. The mystery shoppers responded to 69 ads on Kijiji and 46 ads on Craigslist for a total of 115 ads.




During his 25 years with the Halton Regional Police Service, Carey Smith held a wide range of positions with unique challenges: Examination of homicide scenes and autopsies as a forensic services detective; as media relations sergeant, he was the official police spokesperson during the horrific Paul Bernardo investigation; he headed up the Criminal Investigation Bureau's units investigating sexual assaults and missing persons and later the Fraud and Arson unit where he first developed his specialization in the auto sector. As Detective Sergeant of the Major Crimes Unit, he initiated and headed up what became one of the largest joint forces operations in the country, Project Phantom, involving over 50 personnel and the largest GST fraud case in history (estimated over $50 million).

As a result of Project Phantom, and his position as Director of Investigations with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), he is considered an authority on organized crime in the car industry and has given lectures across the country. 

Video: How to Avoid Curbsiders and Fraudsters

To view the video associated with this press release, please visit the following link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdb9bF96Txc


Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)


  • Founded in 1997

  • Responsible for administering the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) on behalf of the Ministry of Consumer Services

  • Licenses and regulates over 8,200 dealerships and 22,000 salespeople in Ontario

  • Its mandate is to maintain a fair, safe and informed marketplace 

  • OMVIC provides the following services:

    • Registration: screens all dealer and salesperson applicants to ensure they meet the requirements outlined in the MVDA.

    • Inspections, investigations & prosecutions: regularly inspects dealerships and records to make sure dealers/salespeople are in compliance with the Act. It also investigates non-compliance, which may result in prosecution.

    • Consumer complaints: responsible for handling disputes between consumers and registered dealers or between registered dealers themselves.

    • Professional standards & public awareness: promotes dealer education programs and focuses on public awareness of consumer rights and responsibilities.

Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, 2002

  • Came into effect on January 1, 2010

  • Consumers that buy from Ontario-registered dealers have the following protections under the Act:

    • All-in pricing – no hidden fee or costs (excluding taxes)

    • Full disclosure of a vehicle's history including any major repairs or accidents

    • Rescission rights – if a registered dealer does not provide full disclosure a consumer may be eligible to cancel a contract within 90 days

    • Access to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund – consumers that buy a vehicle from a registered dealer may be eligible for up to $45,000 in financial compensation from the Fund

To view the photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20101014-TransitShelterAd800.jpg

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