LOS ANGELES - As a result of a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) investigation, in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car salesman is headed to prison for odometer tampering.
On March 16, 2015, Jeffrey Levy, 63, of Woodland Hills, was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay $115,818.80 in restitution to victims who purchased vehicles without knowing the odometers displayed incorrect mileages. Levy pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to tamper with odometers last November.
"California Department of Motor Vehicles investigators pioneered the way for other law enforcement agencies across the country on investigating 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. In addition, the DMV investigator assigned to this case was determined and focused from beginning to end and I commend her for seeing it through."
Levy was a salesman at Galpin Ford in North Hills. In his guilty plea, Levy admitted that he referred customers and friends to his co-conspirator, Shamai Salpeter, who, for $100 to $400, rolled back odometers in the driveway of his residence in Woodland Hills.
Levy knew that some of his customers had exceeded the maximum allowed mileage under the terms of their leases and wanted to avoid fees and penalties. He 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 false, lower mileage readings. Levy accepted the vehicles without alerting Galpin Ford that the odometer readings were false. Future purchasers of the vehicles were defrauded because they purchased vehicles with false odometer readings. Galpin Ford cooperated with the government’s investigation.
“Thankfully California has a DMV investigation division with high-caliber investigators who attack this fraudulent activity which is on the rise," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "Tampering with odometers puts consumers at risk, both physically and financially. With an odometer rolled back, the buyer purchases a used car that is more used than he or she knows, which could mean unexpected costly repairs and could affect the safety of the car."
It's estimated that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually.
UPDATE: On April 13, 2014 - Shamai Salpeter was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay $421,666 in restitution to victims who purchased vehicles without knowing the odometer readings were incorrect.
FOR CBS Los Angeles report following sentencing, click here.