Two California men, one a former salesman at a Los Angeles Ford dealership, were charged with rolling back odometers, the U.S. Justice Department said.
“Victims of odometer fraud lose thousands of dollars on what can turn out to be unreliable and potentially dangerous vehicles,” Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery for the department’s Civil Division said in a statement. “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.”
Jeffrey Levy, 62, and Shamai Salpeter, 65, were charged in criminal indictments with conspiracy to commit odometer tampering, the Justice Department statement said.
According to the statement:
Levy, a 20-year salesman at Galpin Ford in the North Hills section of L.A., referred his customers and friends to Salpeter, who meddled with the odometers from his driveway. Levy may have known that some of the customers surpassed the maximum lease mileage, and he offered them an odometer rollback to help avoid fees and penalties or increase their car value when they traded it in.
Salpeter charged between $100 and $400 per odometer rollback. He altered the odometer with electric tools to the mileage his customers requested.
Galpin Ford suspected that Levy was involved with odometer tampering and notified the California Department of Motor Vehicles two and a half years ago, according to Galpin Ford Vice President Alan Skobin. He said he didn’t know computerized odometers could be manipulated, but he went to law enforcement with the information right away.
Galpin Ford was “not only a victim, but enabled law enforcement to begin the investigation,” Skobin said.
Carfax estimated in 2013 that 295,000 vehicles in California and more than 1 million in the country have rolled-back odometers. Odometer tampering is highest in California, Nevada, Massachusetts, New York and Texas, according to Carfax.
“I’m pretty proud of our people and our company for doing the right thing,” Skobin said. “We have a strong set of core values here.”
Levy and Salpeter did not answer calls from Automotive News. NHTSA and the California DMV investigated the case.