Private Party
Car Sales Scam

The curbstoner car buying scam can also be called a private party car "sales scam" and has nothing to do with your typical car dealership.

I've labeled this as a scam, simply because of the deception involved. This car sales scam does not always lead to the private party buyer getting ripped off, but can be deceiving and definitely requires that you take some extra precautions if you feel you are buying from one.

The actual act of curbstoning cars for sale is illegal and as mentioned above, is rather deceptive.

What's covered below:

What Is
A Curbstoner

A curbstoner is a person that deals in the illegal act of selling cars (curbstoning) to private party buyers without a car dealers license.

They are in essence a shady car dealer that sells cars without a dealers license and, because of their deception, are not regulated by the state.

They avoid the need for a costly dealers license by not registering cars they buy in their name and selling these cars to unsuspecting buyers, oftentimes representing themselves as the actual owner.

The State
Each state has its own separate guidelines with regards to how many cars an individual can buy and sell (usually 4-6) within a 12 month period. Exceed that limit and you'll be required to get a car dealers license.

The state cares, because a licensed dealer has certain rules and regulations that they must comply with in order to protect consumers and make sure all car sales transactions are on the up and up.

In addition, and probably most importantly, they care because the state can and usually does get stiffed on the sales tax for at least one buy/sell transaction.

How A Curbstoner
Gets Around Licensing

They simply purchase vehicles from private parties and never register the vehicle in their own name. Basically, they are acting as a middle man, but without the buyers knowledge.

Mr. C, B and S
For instance, if I were Mr. C (C is for curbstoner) and were to buy a car from Mr. S (S is for seller), I would buy the vehicle in the same fashion as usual, except I would never title the vehicle in my name.

Let's assume I, Mr. C, bought the vehicle for $1,000.

I would then turn around and try to sell the vehicle to Mr. B (B is for buyer) for $2,500 and could, if I was really deceptive, represent myself as Mr. S.

I would tell you that I was the original owner, the car has had no problems, I really hate to get rid of it, I hope you take good care of it, etc.

Do you see where problems could arise? I, Mr. C, have no clue about the history of the vehicle and even if I did, I could lie through my teeth about the quality of vehicle that you, Mr. B, are looking to buy.

What If...

  • The vehicle had been in a wreck?

  • Its had three transmissions replaced?

  • Its had major electrical issues over the course of the time Mr. S owned it?

  • The odometer stopped working 30,000 miles ago?

And on and on and on...

Now of course, if you were to buy direct from the actual private party seller they could lie as well, but you may have some sort of legal recourse you could take after the sale if they grossly misrepresented the vehicle and its condition.

With a curbstoner, good luck finding them after the sale. You probably won't even know their real name. Not to mention, they may change phone numbers every month or so.

What Precautions
Should You To Take

The easiest way to avoid getting caught up in this scam is to simply ask to see the sellers ID and make sure it matches the title and registration.

If they don't want to produce ID, or the dog ate it, then you're probably working with a curbstoner.

So Now What
It's not the end of the world and you can certainly still buy the vehicle, just take a few precautionary measures.

  1. Perform a very thorough Used Car Inspection.

    In addition to your own inspection, I'd always recommend you have a professional mechanic inspect any used vehicle you plan to purchase.

  2. Match up the VIN

    I would be sure to match up the VIN on the car with the title and registration to be sure they match.

  3. Run a vehicle history report.

    Get a VIN Check

    See the basic information about your vehicle and how many records we have. Enter your VIN to get started!

    Don't have a VIN? You can still get a report on a car!

  4. Go To Your States Motor Vehicle Division

    You'll want to have the sales transaction take place at your states Motor Vehicle Division.

    This is to be sure it's not a fake title to a stolen vehicle and that all paperwork is completed properly.

Now that you've had a chance to learn about what a curbstoner is, does and how to protect yourself, what would you like to do next?

Return from Curbstoner to more Car Buying Scams

Go to Insider Car Buying Tips home

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.