So yesterday, Jeri and I see the below ad for a Ford Focus. We checked the phone number and didn’t find any other vehicles listed. So it seems legit. I send a text to the number.
A little later, Mike calls me. He says that he’s owned the vehicle since 2008. I ask about the timing belt; he’s says that the timing belt and water pump were replaced last year. After I ask if we can see it, he gives me his address.
Jeri and I eat a quick bit for lunch and then head out. Because he is in Riverside (about 50 miles away), it will take us over an hour to get there. Although it is Martin Luther King Jr’s holiday, we will still encounter a bit of traffic.
As we’re driving out, Mike texts us and asks if we are on our way. He then says (via text) that he’s been called in to work and won’t be able to show us the car. However his cousin will be there. We’re going as fast as we can because we hope to catch Mike before he leaves.
No One Home
When we get to the house, no one answers the door. We wait and ring the doorbell multiple times. Finally we text Mike who says that he’ll call and wake up his cousin.
A little later an Asian woman comes to the door. She says that neither Mike nor his cousin are home. By the way, the house looks immaculate inside…beautiful furniture and decor. And the house is in a very nice neighborhood.
Looking and Waiting
We walk around the car which is sitting in the street. We notice that the registration has expired on the car over six months ago. We text Mike a few more times. He says that his cousin went to the mall and would be back in 30 minutes. Even though we don’t like the looks of things, Jeri and I figure that we’ve already taken the time to drive out here so we might as well wait a little longer.
Finally Mike’s cousin shows up driving an Audi A4. He’s black which means that he’s most likely not related to the lady who answered the door. The cousin goes into the house and returns with the car key.
We get inside the car and start looking around. The car isn’t in very good shape.
We ask to see the paperwork so he retrieves the title and registration for the car. As I look at the title, I notice that it is for an entirely different car…a 1997 Mitsubishi. However that wasn’t the only problem. The title had been signed over last month (Dec. 2013). The seller had signed over the title and recorded the price as $1,700. However the buyer information was left blank. We suspect that they are curbstoning the Mitsubishi.
We also notice that the registration for the Focus that we’re looking at was under the name of Steve not Mike. There were a lot of service records in the glove compartment were under Steve’s name starting in 2008. A receipt show that Mike had indeed paid the registration fee (several months late). Now we know why he didn’t have the sticker…it was mailed to Steve.
This is a Curbstoner
So now it’s becoming apparent that this is a curbstoner operation. We didn’t let on that we knew. Since the cousin couldn’t find the correct title, there’s no way that we could have purchased the vehicle even if we had wanted.
We chalked up our wasted afternoon as a lesson learned and we’re glad that we didn’t get taken.
Do you have any experiences with curbstoners?