At least 62 vehicles have been seized by state and local authorities as part of an investigation of odometer fraud at an Arlington used car dealership, an Arlington detective said.
No one has been arrested in the case involving Little Texas Auto Group on West Division Street in Arlington, the same dealership featured in a recent Star-Telegram story about a young Fort Worth man attempting to get his car back from the auto group.
Officials with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicle and Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force have been investigating the Arlington group for weeks.
Armed with a search warrant, authorities went to the two locations of Little Texas Auto Group, 2615 W. Division St. and 1101 W. Division St., on Sept. 21 and confiscated the vehicles.
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“This is still part of an open investigation,” Arlington Detective Jesse Minton said in an email. Minton is a member of the Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force.
The dealerships have remained open, but officials could not be reached Monday for comment.
Lee Randolph, of Fort Worth, who had his car repossessed by Little Texas Auto Group a few weeks ago, said Monday that he will continue his legal battle with the dealership to get his first car back.
“It comes as no surprise to me,” Randolph said Monday in a telephone interview about the investigation. “They need to be held accountable.”
Randolph purchased a 2004 Honda Accord at the 1101 W. Division location in 2014. The Fort Worth man has admitted he didn’t know anything about buying a car and paid on the car for months.
Then, he learned that he needed to check the vehicle’s service record and found the odometer apparently had been rolled back by more than 40,000 miles. He said he tried to negotiate with Little Texas, to no avail.
A letter from the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner to Randolph said the agency had received a letter from Little Texas saying the car lot didn’t have any mileage record.
During the summer and unbeknownst to Randolph, Little Texas Auto Group had paid off the car and obtained the title from Mid-Atlantic Finance Co. in Clearwater, Fla.
Will Johnson, general manager at Little Texas, told the Star-Telegram last week that Randolph had not been a responsible vehicle owner, having been ticketed twice for not having insurance. And the auto group had offered to give Randolph the title to the car if he signed a release of liability, but he wouldn’t.
In October, Randolph went to a justice of the peace court in Arlington, claiming odometer fraud, breach of contract and contract theft. On Oct. 20, a justice of the peace ruled that Little Texas Auto Group defaulted because they did not show up for court and awarded Randolph $2,800.
A few days letter, Randolph’s car was repossessed and he received a certified letter from Little Texas dated Nov. 13 stating, “We have your vehicle as follows: 2004 Honda Black Honda Accord because you failed to comply with the terms of our sales agreement.”
Randolph said he has another car these days.
In July, state and local authorities shut down a major odometer fraud operation after a three-year investigation. Police arrested Kenneth Rose, 41, of Grand Prairie and accused him of rolling back odometers on hundreds of Texas vehicles.
Rose is accused of having contacts with area used-car dealerships
Rose’s trial is pending.
DETECTING ODOMETER FRAUD
Here are some tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on detecting odometer fraud:
- Ask to see the title and compare the mileage on it with the vehicle’s odometer.
- Compare the mileage on the odometer with the mileage on the vehicle’s maintenance or inspection records.
- Check that the numbers on the odometer gauge are aligned correctly. If they are crooked, contain gaps or jiggle when you slap the dashboard with your hand, walk away.
- Examine the tires. If the odometer on your car shows 20,000 or less, it should have the original tires.
- Look at the wear and tear on the vehicle, especially the gas, brake and clutch pedals, to be sure it seems consistent with the number of miles displayed on the odometer.
- Request a vehicle history report to check for odometer discrepancies in the vehicle’s history. If the seller does not a have a vehicle history report, use the car’s VIN to order one online. Two vehicles history report providers are CARFAX and AutoCheck.