TAMPA -- When you buy a car, many times one of the first things we look at is the mileage.
How often has the car been driven and is number is low? That mileage number you're looking at may not always be correct as Mahesh Modah found out.
“It has low mileage,” said Mahesh, who bought the car for his nephew in Tampa.
“It’s clean,” he said.
But this car isn’t what the story is about.
It’s about the first car Mahesh looked to purchase for his college-aged nephew.
“I went on Craigslist, and found that the car was available for $9,000. We negotiated $8,500,” said Mahesh.
It was a 2010 Toyota Corolla with just over 30,000 miles. The description: extremely neat and a great engine.
“The seller said you have to pay cash,” said Mahesh.
But since it was a holiday weekend, the banks were closed. So he left the seller with a $1,000 deposit until the next day.
“He gave us a slip of $1,000 for the proof of purchase,” said Mahesh.
Too good to be true
That night, Mahesh started having doubts.
“I went home and did a Carfax check and saw that the car was over 200,000 miles rather than 31,000 miles,” he said.
“Right here in Florida, we have almost 50,000 cars with odometer rollback and a fifth of those are in the Bay area,“ said Chris Basso, PR Manager at CARFAX.
Basso says since cars have moved into the digital age, it’s taking criminals not long at all to order a device online and install it into a vehicle and have those mileage numbers roll on back.
“They can the change reading in a matter of seconds,” said Basso. “The fact, that many people think that odometer fraud has gone away and the ease of convent to roll these odometers back has led to significant increase to odometer fraud in the past two years, where there’s about 200,000 cases of odometer fraud every year.”
Ten thousands cases on average right here in the Bay Area
Rafael Garcia is the one who was selling that 2010 Toyota Corolla.
That night after Mahesh did a CARFAX check, he contacted authorities, who then set up to meet Garcia with Mahesh the next day when the purchase of the vehicles was set to take place.
“The police were their waiting when he showed up and they handcuffed him,” said Mahesh.
“The key is the wear and tear of the inside of the car. Look at the steering wheel, where you put your hands, the gear shifter, the pedals, the carpet,” says Basso.
Anyone worried about buying car that may have car roll back go to CARFAX.com/odo.
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