Don’t buy a vehicle from a “Curbstoner”

OK, so what, precisely, is a Curbstoner?

Here’s some background:

You know that place on your commute that always has a bunch of cars for sale? the patch of waste ground by the stoplights?

That’s almost certainly a curbstone site. Curbstoners are unlicensed vehicle dealers, called as such because they tend to park a selection of cars for sale in popular areas along the curbstones. They operate in this way because a private sale of a vehicle is not covered by the legal restrictions that a dealer must abide by.

Why are they bad?

Several reasons:

  1. They operate like a business but are unlicensed so if they sell you something that is unsafe, unroadworthy or illegal, there is no legal comeback. They also deprive your community of tax and revenue.
  2. They sell vehicles that no-one in their right minds would buy if they knew the full story. The cars they sell may have been salvaged from scrap, welded together from several different cars, have faulty engines, transmissions, chassis, body parts or safety features.
  3. They are criminals first, salesmen second. If you think you are going to get a bargain, you are probably wrong.
  4. In many cases, they do not hold title and may be relying on bureaucratic delays to sell you a salvaged car that could end up killing you.
  5. They take up valuable parking areas, create an eyesore and encourage illicit activity.

It is estimated that up to 80% of the cars advertised online (primarily Craigslist) and in newspaper classified ads are for sale by these unlicensed dealers.

Curbstoning is the unlicensed flipping of used cars and a scam
So How do I tell a real owner from a curbstoner?

There are several signs to look for, any of which should make you extremely suspicious:

  1. They will insist on a ‘Cash Only’ sale. No exceptions. They want your money now. There’s a good chance that 10 miles down the road the car will self-destruct.
  2. They will meet you at the car’s parking place. They don’t want you coming back or showing the cops where you bought the car from.
  3. They will be selling lots of cars at the same time. When you phone, ask them about the car. If they say “which car”? you’ll know they’re selling more than one. Look at the ad in the paper/online closely. Look above and below it and you may see the same phone number/email address or writing style.
  4. The registration documents will not match the seller. They will make any end of excuses but the fact is a vehicle owner should ‘own’ the vehicle he is selling.

Everyone wants a good deal, and buying a car from a private seller is a great way to get one, but if the private seller ends up being a curbstoner, you will almost certainly lose any money you hand over and you could end up even poorer. Curbstoners ted to operate at the lowend (sub $3000) of the market and disproportionately target those who can least afford it.

If you see or hear about this happening in your neighbourhood, contact your city or county and hopefully we can save everyone from fraud and danger.

More information and References:

3 thoughts on “Don’t buy a vehicle from a “Curbstoner”

  1. whocares says:

    You cant assume that every curbstoner is illegal or selling crap cars that will quickly break down.

    I was a curbstoner for a dozen years. Fully licensed most of the time.

    My ethics were WAY above most car lots.

    I sold for cash only. But I would work with the sellers lenders.

    I had multiple repeat customers and I never hid the fact that I was a dealer.
    I didn’t openly advertise it but I didn’t hide from it when meeting and showing cars either.

    The “stopcurbstoning” site is by car lots that don’t like competition.

    The bottom line is I saved most people over $1000 on a cheap car as compared to the car lots.

    I had lower expenses & could provide better deals.

    No car lot, no salesman, just me.

    Most of my deals were win-win situations for myself and the buyers.

    On the other hand, salesman at many dealerships wouldn’t think twice about LYING to sell people a car.

    So while some curbstoners may be unethical, you cant assume that they as a whole are any worse than the salesman who work at car dealers.

  2. Grant says:

    It is always a good idea to check out a website before you visit it for the first time. Many tools you can use. Scamadviser is possibly the best and most up-to-date. Just enter the website URL and see what the result is:

    By checking the site you will get a clear idea of the site, ownership, registration, online trust etc. Scamadviser is one of the most trusted tool for checking the scam or legitimacy of the website. Scamadviser gives you interesting and informative facts on the website you are searching for. You may share this tool, if you find it worth to use.

  3. Mike says:

    1st people should stop buying anything from unlicensed dealers…

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