The New South Wales state government of Australia is warning residents shopping for used vehicles to be mindful of odometer tampering, after a four-fold increase in the number of fines issued for the offence.
Fair Trading Minister Eleni Petinos said as used vehicle sales increased during COVID-19, so too had incidents of odometer fraud.
“NSW Fair Trading Investigators dished out $112,200 (US$83,000) in fines and 76 penalty notices in 2021 and 2022—a huge jump from 22 total penalties in 2020,” she said in a release.
Petinos described one case, where a perpetrator removed more than 400,000 kilometres (250,000 miles) off a 2012 Subaru XV then sold for $32,000 (US$24,000)—an $11,000 increase on the original sale price.
In another example, a 2009 Toyota Hilux was resold for five times its sale price—$30,980 from $6,000—after the odometer reading was reduced by about 280,000 kilometres.
“To intentionally rip off a fellow everyday Australian just trying to buy a second-hand car is abhorrent and our NSW Fair Trading inspectors will continue to go after the crooks who think this type of behaviour is OK,” Petinos said.
Fair Trade advises consumers to conduct due diligence when buying used vehicles, particularly when the odometer reading seems low for its age.
“If it seems too good to be true, it just might be,” Petinos said. “So it’s worth taking extra measures to make sure you don’t end up with an expensive mistake.”
Perpetrators often change the registration plate and use a third-party individual to sell the vehicle on their behalf, so consumers should check and see the registration paperwork and proof of ownership of the vehicle. It is also important to meet the owner in person and sight their identification.
Used vehicle prices have surged up to 30 percent during the pandemic and the recent catastrophic flooding along the east coast has caused a new wave of demand.
Ajay Bhatia, the managing director of Carsales Australia, previously told The Epoch Times that he believes car prices have plateaued and will remain elevated for the next two years.
Drivers looking for used cars are also being warned that flood-damaged cars are appearing in the market.
“In a market like this one where there is a shortage of new car stock and where used cars are not plentiful, if the deal looks too good to be true it probably is,” Motor Trades Association of Australia CEO Richard Dudley told the ABC.
He said he had seen cars that were impacted by the east cost floods show up in Western Australia.
Original link : Australian Consumers Warned of Used Car Scams as Odometer Tampering Surges