Redcliffe couple fined for winding back odometers on used cars

A Redcliffe couple have been fined thousands for winding back odometers.
A Redcliffe couple have been fined thousands for winding back odometers.

A Redcliffe couple who bought and sold vehicles without a licence, used false names and wound-back odometers were fined $21,000 in Perth Magistrates Court.

Between July 2016 and November 2017, the couple bought and sold 51 cars without a licence and used false names when registering the cars to avoid detection, in breach of the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA).

They pleaded guilty to charges of making false or misleading statements in breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) in relation to the odometer readings of six of the vehicles they sold, including:

  • A Toyota RAV-4 that had travelled 193,357 kilometres had a reading of 80,000 when sold in September 2015;
  • A Toyota RAV-4 that had travelled 167,450 kilometres had a reading of 90,000 kilometres when sold in February 2016;
  • A Toyota RAV-4 that had travelled 258,375 kilometres had a reading of 100,000 kilometres when sold in August 2016;
  • A Toyota Camry that had travelled 223,200 kilometres had a reading of 116,200 kilometres when sold in November 2016;
  • A Toyota Yaris that had travelled 255,861 kilometres had a reading of 109,502 kilometres when sold in December 2016; and
  • A Toyota Camry that had travelled 159,000 kilometres had a reading of 85,000 kilometres when sold in May 2017.

On 27 July 2018, the husband was fined $4,000 and his wife $2,000 for the MVDA offence. For the ACL offences, the husband was fined a total of $12,000 for the six charges and his wife was fined a total of $3,000.

Magistrate Michelle Pontifex said the husband received a higher penalty because of his greater culpability and the fact that he was well aware of the laws regarding unlicensed dealing.

The Magistrate acknowledged the importance of general deterrence in protecting consumers’ rights and noted the element of deception involved in the offences with the couple using false names to register the cars.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the double deception in this case represented appalling behaviour by the couple.

“It’s bad enough to be involved in unlicensed dealing, but to also use false names and then wind back the clock on vehicles is a major slap in the face for consumers and their rights,” Mr Hillyard said.

“We have had many successful prosecutions recently regarding sellers winding back the odometers of their vehicles, so be warned; if you take part in this practice of serious deception you will be found out and prosecuted.

“We urge anyone who suspects the vehicles they have purchased have had their odometers interfered with to contact Consumer Protection so we can take action.”

Motor vehicle buyers who believe they have been misled can lodge a complaint on the Consumer Protection website here. Enquiries can be made by emailing consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.