by: Jim Strickland Updated:
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A new study from automobile research firm Carfax shows Georgia has the fourth
-highest total of registered cars showing evidence of odometer fraud.
Only California, Texas and New York were worse in the nation for odometer fraud.
Forty-thousand cars now on the road in Georgia are affected, according to the study.
The Department of Justice estimates the average victim loses $4,000 by paying too much and paying for added repairs.
Consumer Investigator Jim Strickland questioned a Gwinnett car dealer now accused of odometer fraud in a civil suit
"Are you telling me you did not roll back the mileage on that car?" Strickland asked dealer Alex Gobran.
"One hundred percent no. We not do that," Gobran said.
Strickland questioned him about the 2001 Toyota Avalon he sold to Charity Bell of Duluth.
"Every little problem.
There's leaking oil, the radiator's cracked," Bell said.
"You can't afford another car, can you?" Strickland asked.
"No," Bell said.
A Carfax report shows the car sold at auction with 237,000 miles on it last year.
The odometer said 163,000 when Strickland rode in the car this month. The car passed Georgia emissions inspection with similar mileage in 2007.
Private appraiser Richard Hixenbaugh looked at the car.
"They purchased the vehicle for $4,900 and based on my analysis, I determined that the vehicle was really only worth about a little over $1,600,” Hixenbaugh said.
Carfax called the case typical.
"Georgia is one of the biggest states that consumers are at risk for buying a rollback car. It's a real issue for anybody in Atlanta and in the state of Georgia to get ripped off," said Carfax spokesman Chris Basso.
A local Toyota dealer says fixing the car would cost another $893.
"It was essentially a rough condition wholesale vehicle that shouldn't have been sold to any consumer," Hixenbaugh said.
"I never did anything wrong to that lady. I don't know why she is coming back to me," Gobran told Strickland.
With no proof Gobran is the one who rolled back the odometer, Strickland asked to check other cars on the lot.
A BMW and Volvo matched their Carfax reports, but Gobran advertised a Mercedes with nearly 60,000 fewer miles than the car's Carfax report.
Despite what it costs consumers, odometer fraud is a misdemeanor is Georgia.
Bell is awaiting a court date in her civil case against Gobran.
"He should be in jail, I think, for selling bad cars knowing that it's against the law. It's not right," said Bell.
"I will win that case 100 percent," Gobran said.