TORONTO, June 20, 2012 /CNW/ - One of Ontario's most prolific illegal sellers of vehicles, Bahjat (Bruno) Touma of Windsor, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of acting as a dealer without benefit of registration (curbsiding) and one count of acting as a salesperson without registration, in contravention of the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA).
In Ontario, all dealers and salespersons must be registered with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC). Unregistered persons who sell motor vehicles as a matter of business are considered curbsiders, and are breaking the law. Touma was fined $25,000 on each count and was ordered to pay a 25% victim fine surcharge (VFSC); total penalty, $62,500. He also received one year of probation and was ordered not to trade in motor vehicles unless registered as a dealer.
Touma was charged by OMVIC, regulator of motor vehicle sales in Ontario, after receiving complaints from consumers in the Windsor/LaSalle/Amherstburg/Essex area. OMVIC's investigation found Touma sold more than 10 vehicles between March and August 2011. In some instances he represented himself as a private seller while at other times he sold at a Windsor dealership (the dealership has also been charged). Yesterday's convictions for illegal vehicle sales were not the first for Touma having been convicted numerous times for similar actions over the past 12 years.
Curbsiding is a growing problem in Ontario. Commonly curbsiders pose as private sellers to avoid detection and today's online marketplaces make it easier for curbsiders to list and sell vehicles with anonymity. It is estimated 25% of all 'private' classified car advertisements are actually placed by curbsiders. These illegal sellers often misrepresent themselves and the vehicles they trade which are frequently accident damaged (or previous write-offs), odometer tampered or they have liens.
Consumers should understand that if they buy a vehicle privately, they are not protected by OMVIC or by Ontario Consumer Protection law.
To learn more about curbsiders and how to spot them consumers may visit buywithconfidence.ca. To report a suspected curbsider: 1-888-NO-CURBS (662-8727) or [email protected]
The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) regulates motor vehicle dealers in Ontario and enforces the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) on behalf of the Ministry of Consumer Services. OMVIC maintains a fair and informed vehicle sales marketplace by regulating dealers and salespersons, regularly inspecting Ontario's 8,000 dealerships and 24,000 salespeople, maintaining a complaint line for consumers and conducting investigations and prosecutions. OMVIC is also responsible for administering the Motor Vehicle Dealers Compensation Fund on behalf of its Board of Trustees.
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