Delta 'curbers' charged with fraud

Brothers accused of rolling back odometers on hundreds of vehicles

VANCOUVER, Sept. 17 /CNW/ - Two brothers, Parveen Saini and Naveen Saini, face a combined total of 33 counts of fraud following one of the most extensive fraud cases ICBC has ever investigated. Their trial begins tomorrow (September 18) at the Surrey Provincial Court.

ICBC's Special Investigation Unit (SIU) launched a probe after receiving an anonymous tip that the brothers were buying used vehicles - some with mileage as high as 460,000 kilometers - and rolling back the odometers before reselling them at a profit. The SIU investigation determined the two were registered owners of more than 300 vehicles over a span of three years.

"Typically the two sought out Honda and Toyota vehicles on the internet or in classified ads, snapped them up and then sold them for a profit after allegedly rolling back the odometer significantly," said Steven Tripp, Manager of the SIU. "Our priority was to get them out of the business and protect our customers from purchasing vehicles that may have been fraudulently altered."

The Saini brothers allegedly acted as curbers, people who sell cars and trucks without a dealer's license, which is a requirement of the Vehicle Sales Authority if the seller is making a profit. Curbers often connect with buyers and sellers in public spaces or parking lots, never at their own home, and often have multiple cars or trucks for sale.

"A sure-fire way to tell if you're dealing with a curber is to search whatever source you're using - be it craigslist, the Buy and Sell or your newspaper's classifieds - and see if their number is listed with another vehicle," Tripp warns.

There are other precautions ICBC recommends for buyers hoping to reduce their chance of landing a stolen or fraudulently altered vehicle:

    
    1.  Inspect the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): The VIN on the
        dashboard and the engine firewall should match with the Vehicle
        Registration form. Check for signs of tampering like loose or
        mismatched rivets, or scratched numbers.

    2.  Insist on seeing the original Vehicle Registration form: Don't make
        do with a photocopy - make sure you have the original document and
        then check that all the information matches the vehicle you are
        buying.

    3.  Take a closer look at the odometer: Make sure the numbers are
        properly aligned, and there are no marks or obvious signs of
        tampering. When purchasing an older model car, consider that vehicles
        travel, on average, about 25,000 kilometres a year. By obtaining the
        vehicle's registration number you can also check when the vehicle
        last went through an AirCare testing at aircare.ca. Odometer readings
        should increase and not do a significant drop.

    4.  Uncover the vehicle's claims history: Get a Vehicle Claims History
        report or a more detailed CarProof Verified BC report. Both are
        available, for a fee, online http://www.icbc.com/registration-licensing/buy-vehicle/buy-used/vehicle-history#.Variables._frag_.

    5.  Perform a lien search: A lien may have been placed on the vehicle by
        a person, bank or other entity as collateral for an unpaid debt. A
        lien is attached to the vehicle, not the owner. A lien search - which
        costs about $10 - can be performed at any ICBC Driver Service Centre
        and many ServiceBC offices.
    

"Importantly, if the deal on a vehicle seems too good to be true - it's probably because it is," said Tripp. "With this particular case, the vehicles were being sold for thousands of dollars less than they should have been. The same vehicles were also rebuilt models, which wasn't something the buyers were aware of. This emphasizes the importance of doing as much research as possible into a vehicle before buying it."

Fraud costs each of our 3.1 million customers an estimated $100 to $150 per year. The public can help combat fraud and help keep their auto insurance premiums low and stable. Anyone with information regarding a suspicious, exaggerated or fraudulent claim is encouraged to call ICBC's tips line at 604-661-6844 or 1-800-661-6844, toll free from anywhere in the province. Callers can remain anonymous.

SOURCE ICBC

For further information: For further information: Media contacts: Adam Grossman, (604) 982-1332

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