A Southern California man has been arrested after DMV agents say he tricked consumers into buying cars that were broken, and in at least one case, stolen.
Investigators describe Ramon Vladimir Torres Quiroz as a "skilled con artist" who allegedly took thousands of dollars from more than a dozen prospective car buyers.
DMV agents took Quiroz into custody on April 15 at a South Los Angeles location, where they say he’d met with buyers who responded to ads he’d placed on online sale websites and in newspapers.
According to the DMV, Quiroz was operating a dealership without a state license and charging people thousands of dollars for cars that they later discovered were in disrepair - or worse.
Farrah and Tom Johnson admit they fell for the con job, paying more than $3700 for a 2001 325-i BMW they found on Craigslist.
"He seemed like a nice guy and he seemed so professional," Farrah Johnson said.
The couple told NBC4 they picked up the car at a rented garage in Lakewood, but 10 days later, were stopped by police for driving a stolen vehicle.
The vehicle was immediately impounded.
"They wouldn’t even let us take our stuff out of the car," Farrah said.
The Johnsons said Quiroz had disappeared by the time they returned to the garage where they made the deal.
According to investigators, Quiroz was allegedly doing brisk business at a new location in South L.A. when they finally managed to shut his operation down.
Quiroz is now facing 20 criminal counts, including grand theft auto and filing false documents. Asked to comment on the charges at the time of his arrest, he said, "I can’t respond to anything, but It’s not true."
The DMV says this case is a cautionary tale, and offered these tips to prospective car buyers:
- Research car seller before making a purchase.
- Order a vehicle’s history report from a service, such as Carfax, before you buy.
- Ask to inspect the car before completing purchase.
The DMV says the Johnson’s also missed a major red flag when they didn’t receive a pink slip when they bought the BMW.
The only time you won’t get a physical slip is if you finance a car purchase.