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Published on May 17, 2012
WALNUT CREEK (CBS 5) -- Next time you sell a used car, you may want to want to ask the buyer to sign the title deed (pink slip) in your presence.
That hadn't occurred to Christine Brownwesthoff of Walnut Creek when she sold her car to a buyer who responded to her Craigslist posting.
The next day, she discovered her car re-listed for $2000 more. "Good on him, he's making a couple of grand," Brownwesthoff initially thought.
But then she took a closer look at the ad and noticed it promised the car had a new engine with paperwork to prove it.
She realized it was unlikely the engine had been replaced within the 24 hours since she sold the car, and when she looked at her copy of the pink slip she worried that she might be held liable.
"He had not signed as the buyer, I had only signed as the seller. I'm assuming he's going to give the pink slip to the next buyer which would bypass him completely; making it look like I sold the car and lied about the new engine." said Brownwesthoff.
Concerned, her roommate contacted the seller posing as an interested buyer. That's when Brownwesthoff confirmed he was selling the car under her name along with a forged receipt for the new motor.
The seller claimed his name was Angelo Marks and that Christine was his wife. He created an elaborate story about why she had to have the engine replaced three years prior.
Brownwesthoff then contacted ConsumerWatch and the team accompanied her roommate to meet the alleged scammer for a second time.
When confronted, he didn't seem to care that he was in violation of state law that requires a secondhand dealers' license to sell a car under someone else's name. Before driving off, he denied that he forged the paperwork for the new engine. The Craiglist posting was removed the following day.
The DMV fraud department was investigating and warned buyers are not required to sign the pink slip in front of a seller, but the seller can certainly ask. .
The seller, however, is required to file a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability with the DMV, within 5 days.
That can easily be done online at www.dmv.ca.gov/online/nrl/welcome.htm