ADOT warns of "curbstoning" for car buyers

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- ADOT officials are sending a warning about buying from unlicensed dealers, as there is a scam potential carbuyers need to look out for.

The scam, called curbstoning, happens when unlicensed dealers flip salvaged cars to buyers who may not have done their homework, and it's one of the many crimes ADOT detectives investigate.

"Curbstoning has become a real problem," said Lt. Scott Gamble with ADOT. He says about 40 detectives within the department focus on cracking cases connected to vehicle fraud.

"We have the ability to investigate cases that, by and large, aren't being investigated," said Gamble. "So, car dealer investigations, as far as are the dealers reputable? Are they giving people their titles?"

Detectives also use facial recognition technology to find suspects who try and steal driver licenses and ID cards, working with the Motor Vehicle Division to stop identity theft.

"Just our facial rec unit alone, this year, has knocked out about 6,000 different cases," said Gamble.

Law enforcement agencies look to ADOT investigators for help. Last summer, detectives learned of a Valley used car dealer trying to sell the same car multiple times online, without providing the title after receiving the payment, and eventually arrested the suspect. Gamble says people should meet the seller at a local MVD office, and ask questions about the vehicle.

"What's the most important thing someone can do to prevent being scammed?" said Gamble. "If it's too good to be true, it probably is. For every great deal you find, you don't know what that car's been through."

People about to buy a vehicle from someone can easily ask for the car's VIN, and get it checked at a local MVD office to see if there are any liens or details not known.