A Toronto Police traffic officer says car buyers must beware after the announced arrests of two London men for fraudulently selling wrecked, rebuilt cars.
“I think there is more (of such activity) than most people are aware,” Sgt. Tim Burrows told ctvtoronto.ca on Thursday.
“It’s a huge problem, in terms of the safety risks of those types of cars on our roads, the underground economy that they create. But we really don’t know how big.”
The suspects are alleged to have:
- purchased wrecked vehicles from salvage and scrap yards
- rebuilt them
- fit them with stolen or otherwise improper Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs)
They would then sell the vehicles for a profit.
Police say they recovered eight high-end SUVs and a Harley Davidson motorcycle, worth an estimated total value of $270,000.
Matthew Rodgers, 28, of London has been charged with:
- eight counts of possession of property obtained by crime
- four counts of fraud over $5,000
- failure to comply with a recognizance
He is to appear in a Toronto court on March 1.
John Anthony Sorrenti, 29, of London has been charged with:
- two counts of possession of property obtained by crime
- attempted fraud over $5,000
- public mischief
- uttering forged document
He is to appear in a Toronto court on April 8.
No allegations against the two have been proven in a court of law.
Burrows said some of these vehicles are assembled from three other vehicles. “Now you’re into structural problems with the welds … they can break, and then the structural integrity is gone.”
In addition, people who rebuild and sell wrecked cars won’t install airbags, so that safety feature might not be available, he said.
Burrows said one of the first things to do is make sure you know who you’re dealing with, either a reputable dealership or an individual you trust.
He recommends running a VIN check, which can tell you if the car has ever been involved in a crash.
“One of the biggest rules of thumb is if it looks too good to be true, it is. You have a vehicle that’s an incredible deal, and generally speaking, there’s something wrong with it in the background that you can’t see.”