Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Help Me Howard: Odometer
A South Florida man was driven mad after he bought a used car and later learned the odometer had been rolled back tens of thousands of miles. So we're rolling out some advice in tonight's Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- For years, Bruno Roggiero had wanted a nice big car. Last year he decided to pull the trigger.
Bruno Roggiero: "I told my wife we have to get a Mercedes. We got to get a Benz that's what I had in mind so that's what I decided to go for."
Bruno paid $12,000 for a 2001 Mercedes from Sanso Auto Dealer in Miami-Dade and the mileage was not bad.
Bruno Roggiero: "88,000, 87, 88 thousand miles is what the dash board showed at that time."
Move forward a year Bruno was out of work and needing money decided to sell his car. A buyer came over.
Bruno Roggiero: "And were about to do the transaction and then he said, 'hold on a second I really want to get a Carfax' so I said no problem."
A few seconds later, the Carfax showed there was a problem.
Bruno Roggiero: "Because the dealer bought it from the auction, the auction reported 164,000 miles when he bought it from the auction."
According to the paperwork, the car had 164,000 miles on it when it was sold to Sanso Auto Sales and when the used car dealer sold it to Bruno...
Bruno Roggiero: "It was 88,000 miles, 88,000 miles, so were talking about double and its on paper. "And then I realized that the guy tampered with the miles."
The car Bruno paid $12,000 for, the car he was about to sell for $10,000 suddenly was worth half that.
Bruno Roggiero: "$100, $4,500, there's a big difference."
Bruno's first thought...
Bruno Roggiero: "Was get my baseball bat and go out there an deal with guy, but you know.."
Bruno knew that was a bad idea so he started sending letters to every local and state agency he thought would help.
Bruno Roggiero: "I got like 10 letters from the state from everyone else. Even the Attorney General called and I asked him if they can help me. No one can seem to do anything."
One reason agencies chose not to help is because when Bruno bought the car he signed a piece of paper that read, "I hereby certify that the odometer reading is not the actual mileage."
Bruno Roggiero: "Were not talking about 10,000 miles, we're talking about 86,900 thousand miles more. I never figured that a car dealer number one you know will do something like that."
Now he is stuck with a car with twice the mileage he thought it had, worth half what he paid for it, and with no agencies wanting to investigate the odometer tampering.
Bruno Roggiero: "Nobody can help me, I had no other choice but to turn to Help Me Howard and Channel 7."
Well Howard, it's a crime to roll back an odometer, but what if you sign a document saying you know the odometer is not accurate?
Howard Finkelstein: "Even if the buyer signs a form saying they realize the odometer may not be accurate, it's still a crime if it was the seller who rolled back the odometer. Plain and simple."
After we talked to Bruno, the Miami-Dade Police Department went to work.
The owner of Sanso Auto Sales, Mariano Sanso was accused of tampering with the odometers on four more cars.
He was then arrested and charged with five counts of odometer tampering and a scheme to defraud.
Bruno Roggiero: "On top of my car and god knows how many more they have not disclosed or they have not find out."
Sanso is pleading not guilty to all the charges and in a statement his attorney wrote that in every sale the victims signed odometer disclosure statements that said the odometer reading is not the actual mileage.
Carlos Santisteban added the Department of Motor Vehicles investigated and exonerated his client. Santisteban concluded, "I don't know why and how the state attorney is now charging my client."
Howard Finkelstein: "If the attorney can prove an employee did it without the dealers knowledge, then his client is off the hook. The problem is, the police say it happened five different times and the state attorney will argue that what happens at this dealership happened with his knowledge of the owner."
Bruno did sell his car for a lot less than he paid for it. If Sanso is found guilty a judge could force him to pay Bruno restitution. In the meantime, he has found a job in a business he never expected.
Bruno Roggiero: "This gentleman offered me this job, very nice people. Selling cars, life is not funny, life is a circle."
He has a problem with a car dealership and gets a job at another car dealership. Life is strange. By the way, if you go buy a used car and they want you to sign a document saying the mileage is not correct, just get up and leave. It can save you thousands of dollars and dozens of headaches.
Dealt a problem driving you up the wall? Wanna roll back to better times? Contact us. We may have a lot of mileage, cause we work for you and for the guy who signs our paycheck. With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser 7News.
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