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  1. #1
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    Jan 2015
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    Default Dealership Sold a Used Car in a Private Party Transaction Under Former Owner's Title

    My question involves vehicle registration or title in the state of: California

    I'm writing about something that just happened to my son's girlfriend, and hoping someone can enlighten me on if she has some remedy. Her purchase was in California in August 2014, and I have just come to be aware of this in the last couple weeks.

    She was told by a friend that the Service Manager of a Dealership had a used car for sale. She went to see it and ended up buying the car for $5,000. Rather quickly the car had terrible transmission problems and a new $4000 transmission is now required. I understand California is a strong buyer beware state, so we are not trying to get money back via that route.

    Here's what's shifty:

    The Service Manager sold her the car (which was sitting on the lot, but not as a car for sale from the dealer -- just the place he kept it). as a private party transaction. No Dealership paperwork was done at all. He did not represent it was a dealer car, but his car. He told her that it was a trade-in from some nice lady that bought a new car there. Now I learn that the car had an "open title" meaning that it still had the lady's name on it. The Service Manager, nor the Dealership, had their name on it as my son's girlfriend noticed when she was at the DMV taking care of the sale paperwork -- just the name of the woman who traded it in.

    My friend who knows a lot about cars tells me that this is illegal if the seller is not a dealer, and the DA would love to hear about this. And by the way, one of the principals in the business has already been in big trouble for title fraud in the past. It's a rather small town and so it's definitely known in the DA's office I'm sure. I have to find out, but I doubt the Service Manager is a California authorized dealer (don't yet know where to check, looking for an online source). And it was not the Dealership doing this sale. So it seems like an illegal sale to me, and enough trickery to maybe force a refund and/or at least get them in trouble with the law.

  2. #2
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    Sep 2011
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    Default Re: Dealership Sold a Used Car in a Private Party Transaction Under Former Owner's Ti

    Not to force a refund, because she accepted the car and title as is. Title jumping is a criminal act prosecuted separately.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dealership Sold a Used Car in a Private Party Transaction Under Former Owner's Ti

    Quote Quoting Disagreeable
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    Not to force a refund, because she accepted the car and title as is. Title jumping is a criminal act prosecuted separately.
    Thank you for the quick reply. I looked up Title Jumping and another thread on this forum came up, and I read:

    So in essence, it is a form of tax fraud but that part relates to the guy who sold you the car, not to you personally. If he has done this once, twice and that's it, they aren't going to go after him. Instead, it is those people who make this the source of their daily bread who the state might have issues with.

    Is that pretty accurate? That the authorities may not care? And also, who would I report this to (California)?

  4. #4
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    Sep 2011
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    Default Re: Dealership Sold a Used Car in a Private Party Transaction Under Former Owner's Ti

    Yep, they may not care. You report it to the CA BMV.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    4

    Default Re: Dealership Sold a Used Car in a Private Party Transaction Under Former Owner's Ti

    Thanks again. I'll report it to the DMV. I was thinking I could go to the DA, but it sounds like maybe they would not care (except there's been trouble from this dealer before).

    I think my first step is to approach the owner of the Dealership, and ask him how the Service Manager ends up selling a trade-in to the dealership, personally, without him ever putting the title in his name. One would think the Dealership owner would be concerned about this. Heck, maybe he didn't even know it was done. Either way, maybe he'll be concerned about the reputation of his company, especially since one of the principals there has already been sued for title fraud. They are perceived as a high-end dealership in our town. Yelp is a powerful thing.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I should add, for clarification, that the back of the pink slip was not blank. It was apparently filled out by the prior owner that traded it in. (I have not seen it, but that's what my son's girlfriend remembers). I don't think this matters as the Service Manager who sold the car to her never took title, regardless. But I don't really understand these matters so I thought I should mention it.

    Note to Disagreeable: Love your post signature! Agreed.

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