Do I have a chance to win in small claims court? Fraudulently sold a vehicle with hidden DMV fees!?

by admin on March 26, 2011

My boyfriend and I purchased a commercial vehicle from some people in Los Angeles County. The vehicle was said to be non-op and purchased the vehicle for 00. We bought the vehicle knowing that there would be a 3.00 fee to register the vehicle with the DMV and we would have to smog the vehicle before doing so. We signed a written agreement to purchase the vehicle in "as is" condition so we were aware of its need for a smog and of the 373.00 dmv registration fees.

They gave us the paperwork for the vehicle showing that they had paid back-registration fees of about 00.00 and assured us that the vehicle would only be 3 to register. We asked for a title and bill of sale but they said that the only papers we would need are the ones they gave us since it is a non-op "commercial" vehicle and previously had a lien on the vehicle. We take the vehicle to get smogged only to find out that the smog pump is frozen and has no belt. So we had it replaced and the vehicle passed smog. We are ok with this because we signed an "as-is" agreement, however california law states that the vehicle must be smogged by the owner prior to sale.

The main issue is:
We go to the DMV and there is no record of her owning the vehicle, only of the person before her who owned it. We did not receive a bill of sale from her either, only a hand written receipt, so basically we do not legally own the vehicle but she has our 00. On top of that, there are more DMV fees totaling to about 00 because she did not register the vehicle when it came into her possession. The number they showed us (3) was from 2008! So now we have a vehicle that we technically do not own, they have our 00 and they are refusing to pay the 7.00 difference (we agreed to the 3 dmv registration). I am not sure if we have any legal grounds here.

To me it seems like they illegally sold a vehicle to us that they did not own in the first place and scammed us into buying a vehicle that had hidden fees and an shoddy DMV history. She claims that because it was sold "as-is" we are responsible for the 1100.00 the DMV wants to charge to register the vehicle. However, when we signed the as-is agreement we were only notified of the 3 owed to the DMV.

We are considering taking this to small claims to get them to pay the 7.00 difference so we can legally own the vehicle. She said she is trying to get the forms for bill-of-sale filled out for us from the previous owner, although she seems to mysteriously have disappeared.

This is frustrating. I already checked the VIN and the car has never been reported stolen. The DMV has not told us an exact amount due (so it could be more!) because their computers were down when we went. But based on our paperwork the DMV said it would be around 1100 and it has been owed since 2008, so there is no way that the girl we bought it from did not know about the fees when she sold it to us.

I knew we should have asked for a bill of sale, that was our mistake. And boy do I regret it. I guess live and learn, huh?

I have an associate of hers who was present at the time of the transaction who said he will testify against her and verify that the fees we agreed to were only the 3.00.
(she screwed him out of money too for helping her sell the car and store it on his lot and thinks that she did not conduct business fairly, so he is willing to make a statement in our favor).

So guys….do I have a chance in Small claims?

(sorry for the lengthy question, its a complex situation!)

Thank you!

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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    B. March 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    At one point you say that DMV doesn’t show that she is the legal owner of the vehicle, so if that is true, how would she know about the fees if they didn’t know to tell her?

    Another thing….does she work for DMV? I am asking because you seem to rely on her for the figures that the State of California DMV will charge, so what makes you think that she is a reliable source for those fees? Did she show you any paperwork showing that those were the fees or did she just seem to pull a figure out of thin air to quote for you?

    Those are questions that a Judge will ask you too. Yes, it does seem that she sold the vehicle under fraudulent pretense, but there are also some common sense questions that you seem to have overlooked. A judge MIGHT find you partially at fault and split the difference.

    JESUS IS GOD March 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    "But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and
    keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
    None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him;
    for the righteousness which he has done he shall live.

    ambers hor March 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm

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