California Man Sentenced to Prison for Odometer Fraud Scheme
A Tarzana, California, man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to serve two years in prison on charges related to an odometer tampering scheme, the Department of Justice announced.
Shamai Salpeter, 66, was sentenced by Chief Judge George H. King in the Central District of California to serve 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $421,666 in restitution to victims who purchased vehicles without knowing the odometer readings were incorrect.
In November 2014, Salpeter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of tampering with an odometer. Salpeter admitted that from July 2008 through January 2012, he used electronic odometer tampering tools to alter hundreds of odometers at his residence in Woodland Hills, California. For a payment of $100 to $400, he reset the odometers to any mileage requested by his customers. Frequently, his customers were trying to avoid penalties for exceeding the maximum mileage for their vehicle lease or to make their vehicle more valuable as a trade-in. Many of the vehicles were subsequently sold to unsuspecting consumers who had no way to detect that the odometer readings were inaccurate.
“Each time this defendant altered an odometer with an electronic odometer tampering tool, he violated federal law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will continue to prosecute individuals engaged in odometer tampering to protect innocent purchasers from odometer fraud.”
Many of Salpeter’s customers were referred to him by Jeffrey Levy, a salesman at Galpin Ford in North Hills, California. Levy also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit odometer fraud. On March 16, Levy was sentenced to serve one year in prison and ordered to pay $115,818 in restitution.
“Tampering with odometers is a crime that puts consumers’ lives and wallets at risk,” said Administrator Mark Rosekind of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “We will continue to work with our Department of Justice and state DOT partners to deter odometer fraud and inform consumers of the potential signs and dangers associated with this crime.”
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John W. Burke of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch. The case was investigated by the NHTSA’s Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation and California’s Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations Division.
The NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually and has established a special hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints. Individuals who have information relating to odometer tampering should call (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761.