Andre N. Campbell of Mississauga has been sentenced to 32 days in jail after being convicted on 16 counts of acting as a motor vehicle dealer without benefit of registration (curbsiding), contrary to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, 1990.
Campbell was charged in 2006 after Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) investigators found he routinely purchased vehicles from salvage auctions, conducted repairs and then sold them, posing as a private individual selling a personal vehicle. Many purchasers were not told of the previous damage the vehicles had sustained.
Evidence presented at sentencing showed Campbell had been convicted twice previously for curbsiding; in 2001 and 2004. The fines imposed for those convictions were never paid. In passing sentence, His Worship Delano Europa agreed with the prosecution's submission that incarceration was warranted in light of Campbell's failure to pay past fines and the aggravating factor that the accident history of the vehicles sold was not disclosed to the buyers, one of whom was a driver's education instructor who told Campbell the vehicle would be used by his students.
"This sentence sends an important message to curbsiders," stated OMVIC Director of Investigations Carey Smith. "Retail automotive sales is a regulated industry in Ontario, and these regulations exist to ensure a fair, safe, and informed marketplace. OMVIC's mandate is to ensure persons acting as dealers meet the requirements set out by law."
Curbsiding is a growing problem. Commonly, curbsiders pose as private sellers to avoid detection and today's online marketplaces make it easier for curbsiders to list and sell vehicles with anonymity. It is estimated 25% of all "private" classified car advertisements are actually placed by curbsiders. These illegal sellers often misrepresent themselves and the vehicles they trade which are frequently accident damaged (or previous write-offs), odometer tampered, or have liens. Further, some curbsiders operate out of businesses such as gas stations, repair shops, or rental companies.
OMVIC Manager of Communications and Education Terry O'Keefe advises consumers thinking of buying privately to learn how to spot some common tactics curbsiders use. "Be cautious if a private seller only wants to meet in a parking lot - not at their home. And when you do meet them, be bold; ask to see the vehicle's registration and the seller's driver's licence. If they don't match, walk away - and don't listen to the excuses they will conveniently have available. Finally, beware of vehicles priced below market value. Curbsiders often do this to lure buyers," warned O'Keefe.
Consumers should understand that if they buy a vehicle privately (or from a curbsider) they are not protected by OMVIC or the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund and the transaction is not covered by Ontario's Consumer Protection laws. If consumers are uncertain that a business selling vehicles is actually registered, they can search on OMVIC's website, or, ask to see the seller's OMVIC licence; if they can't produce one, leave!
To learn more about curbsiders and how to spot them, consumers should visit buywithconfidence.ca. To report a suspected curbsider, call 1-888-NO-CURBS (662-8727) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.