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DMV cracks down on unlicensed car dealers

September 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Department of Motor Vehicles conducted sting operations in 50 cities across California on Saturday targeting unlicensed used car dealerships accused of defrauding customers and costing the state money in tax revenue.

More than 160 investigators took part in the statewide, day-long crackdown. DMV officials said 120 citations were issued, including in Huntington Park and Boyle Heights.

Some of the sellers were using counterfeit documents to sell the cars that are typically bought at auctions for little money. The seller then makes cosmetic repairs but the vehicles are sometimes unsafe to drive and usually don't pass clean air standards.

"The cars are unable to pass smog (checks) so buyers would not be able to properly register them with DMV if they wanted to," said DMV investigator Dep. Chief Vito Scattaglia. "When the buyer goes back to seek the seller, typically they're gone the next day.

"There's an aspect of loss of revenue because there's no DMV fees being paid, there's no sales tax being collected, so our licensed dealers out there are competing with this licensed element."

The sellers can face several thousand dollars in fines and fees for each confiscated vehicle.