NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Team 10: DMV works to catch unlicensed dealers

Posted at 5:08 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-07 01:42:45-05

It’s an effort to get unlicensed car dealers off the street.

These car sellers are also called curbstoners. They buy and sell vehicles without a license, proper permits, or legally established place of business, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

On Wednesday, Team 10 went with the DMV to catch curbstoners in the act. Team 10 cameras caught one alleged unlicensed dealer trying to sell a car to undercover investigators. When a price was agreed on, investigators issued a citation. The citation can cost you a few hundred dollars, but the financial toll adds up with court appearances and towing fees.

The seller said his name was Juan. “[I’m] trying to make a living. I got three boys, a family I’m trying to take care of. I didn’t know it was against the law to sell a car,” he said.

The DMV said you are able to sell a car if it’s your own vehicle and you have the proper documents. When Team 10 asked about the vehicle’s title, Juan said it was at his home because he has had bad experiences in the past selling vehicles, including getting robbed.

“He does not have a license to sell vehicles in the state of California. The vehicle is not registered to him as well,” said DMV investigator Steve Potter.

Juan was surprised about the DMV’s undercover operation.

“I think they got better things to do than taking care of this,” Juan said.

Potter said making sure these vehicles are off the streets is important. They also found the vehicle Juan was selling had its odometer rolled back about 100,000 miles.

“There’s significant safety concerns that go along with that,” Potter said.

During Wednesday’s sting, the DMV cited four unlicensed car dealers and towed ten vehicles.

They discourage people from purchasing cars on sites like Craigslist and OfferUp because that is where many curbstoners post their vehicles. The DMV said to make sure the name on the seller’s driver’s license matches the name on the title. It also suggests bringing the vehicle to a mechanic you trust and also completing sales transactions at the DMV office to make sure the sale is legitimate.