When California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) investigators received information of a possible odometer rollback scheme involving a car salesman at a dealership in Los Angeles, they teamed up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA) to find out exactly what was taking place. As a result of their investigation, on September 12, 2014, the U.S. Justice Department charged Jeffrey Levy, 62, and Shamai Salpeter, 65, both of Woodland Hills, with odometer tampering.
"California Department of Motor Vehicles investigators pioneered the way law enforcement officers across the country investigate electronic odometer tampering," said Kenny Ehrman, president of the Association of Motor Vehicle Investigators of California (AMVIC) and Unit-A vice president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA). "With electronic odometers, odometer fraud is on the rise. Many agencies were at a loss on how to investigate electronic odometer tampering, but California DMV investigators have proven, with arrests, prosecutions and convictions, it can be done."
Levy was a salesman at Galpin Ford in North Hills. He is accused of referring customers and friends to his co-conspirator, Salpeter, who allegedly rolled back odometers in the driveway of his Woodland Hills home. 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. According to the accusation, Levy then accepted the vehicles without notifying Galpin Ford that the odometer readings were false, thus defrauding future owners of the vehicles. When a Galpin Ford employee suspected this was happening, Galpin Ford notified the DMV and cooperated with the government’s investigation.
Salpeter is accused of altering odometers for friends, acquaintances, strangers, and customers referred by Levy. Salpeter allegedly charged between $100 and $400 per odometer and used electronic tools to set the odometer to the mileage requested by his customer.
"This is not a victimless crime," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "Unfortunately there are more cases of odometer fraud than there are DMV investigators. It's a problem nationwide, but California seems to be a hot spot. It's troublesome that someone working at a dealership would partake in such illegal activity."