A car salesman was sentenced earlier today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to serve one year and one day in prison on charges related to an odometer tampering scheme, the Justice Department announced.
Jeffrey Levy, 63, of Woodland Hills, California, was also ordered to pay $115,818.80 in restitution to victims who purchased vehicles without knowing the odometers displayed incorrect mileages. In November 2014, Levy pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to tamper with odometers.
“A car salesman should know better than anyone that odometer tampering is a fraud and a crime,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “As this prosecution demonstrates, criminals with an electronic tool can easily alter electronic vehicle odometers, defrauding future car buyers.”
Levy was a salesman at Galpin Ford in North Hills, California. In his guilty plea, Levy admitted that he referred customers and friends to his co-conspirator, Shamai Salpeter, who rolled back odometers in the driveway of his residence in Woodland Hills. Salpeter was also charged and pleaded guilty to odometer tampering and conspiracy to commit odometer fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 13.
Levy knew that some of his customers had exceeded the maximum allowed mileage under the terms of their leases and wished 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.
“Tampering with odometers is a crime that puts consumers’ lives and wallets at risk,” said Administrator Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “Not only do purchasers end up paying more for used cars, but rolling back the mileage on odometers hides necessary information that could ultimately affect a car’s safety and the costs of future repairs to consumers.”
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.
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.
More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA website, and tips on detecting and avoiding odometer fraud are available at this page.