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Car salesmen charged in odometer rollback scheme



This news story was published on September 13, 2014.
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justice2WASHINGTON – A former salesman at a prominent Los Angeles car dealership and another Southern California man were charged with odometer tampering, the Justice Department announced today.

Jeffrey Levy, 62, and Shamai Salpeter, 65, both of Woodland Hills, California, were charged in separate criminal informations with conspiracy to commit odometer tampering.

“ Victims of odometer fraud lose thousands of dollars on what can turn out to be unreliable and potentially dangerous vehicles ,” said Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “To help ensure that Americans can have confidence in the cars they buy, we will continue to prosecute car salesmen and others who violate federal law by tampering with a vehicle’s odometer.”

Levy was a salesman at Galpin Ford in North Hills, California. Levy referred customers and friends to his co-conspirator, Salpeter, who rolled back odometers in the driveway of his Woodland Hills residence. Levy is alleged to have known that some of these people had exceeded the maximum allowed mileage under the terms of their leases and wished to avoid fees and penalties. According to the charges, Levy also knew that other customers wanted to lower the mileage on their odometers to make their vehicles more valuable when they traded in the vehicles. After Salpeter altered the odometers, Levy’s customers returned or traded in their vehicles with falsified lower mileage readings. Levy then accepted the vehicles without alerting Galpin Ford that the odometer readings were false, thus defrauding future owners of the vehicles. Galpin Ford cooperated with the government’s investigation.

Salpeter altered odometers for friends, acquaintances and strangers, including customers referred by Levy. Salpeter charged between $100 and $400 per odometer and used electronic tools to set the odometer to the mileage requested by his customer.

This case was investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA) and California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John W. Burke of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.

NHTSA has established a special hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints. Individuals who have information relating to odometer tampering should call (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761.

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