ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- For many people around St. Louis, tax refunds provide a down payment for a new car, according to a local expert.
But how do you know if the mileage on your new vehicle is correct?
A St. Charles County man by the name of Chris (last name withheld for anonymity) recently bought a 2008 Yukon after finding an ad on Craigslist.
According to the ad, the Yukon had 140,000 miles.
Chris checked the odometer and the back of the title and both seemed to match the mileage claim from the ad.
According to Chris, the seller charged him $8,000 in December, but he ran into problems while trying to register the car because a discrepancy on the title.
According to Chris, the title appeared “washed,” with one digit scratched out on the front regarding mileage.
Chris decided to pull a Carfax report and was shocked.
“It showed the odometer reading back in 2016 for 204,000 miles,” he said.
More than three years later, he realized the car certainly had more miles than what the Carfax reflected.
Chris tried to track down the man who sold him the car, a man named Grant (last name withheld) whose name is on the title.
News 4 called Grant and discovered the man listed on the title (Grant) did not sell the car to Chris.
Grant said he sold the car to “a guy from Arnold named Mike” in November.
Grant said he sold the car for much less than what Chris bought it for, around $5,000.
Grant provided a text exchange where “Mike” asked for a set of keys to be mailed to his Arnold address.
The Arnold home is owned by a man named Michael Santa Maria.
Grant also said the buyer was “very clear” about the mileage and said it was actually “240,000” miles.
News 4 tried to call Santa Maria about his involvement, but he hung up.
An attempt to reach Santa Maria at his home didn't yield any answers, but he did say “Chris (referring to the buyer) is fooling you.”
Jay Grosman is the CEO at I-Auto Agent, a company that helps consumers buy and sell cars.
Grosman said anytime you purchase a car online, “You always want to meet at a police station, don’t veer from that.”
He said the transactions should occur where surveillance cameras are present.
He also advised consumers to ask sellers for their identification, and to take a photo of the seller and their license plate just in case problems surface later.
As for the odometer rollback, Grosman said it’s more prevalent than ever.
“There are devices you can buy online that you can plug into your car for under $200 dollars,” he said. “Roll back to anything you want.”
Grosman advised consumers to pull a Carfax before the transaction to see what mileage is actually listed.
Chris (the buyer) and Grant (the original seller) told News 4 both of them have spoken with investigators with the Missouri Department of Revenue.
The agency will not publicly comment on any investigations, or whether any investigation is taking place.
When Chris was asked if he would have purchased the vehicle if he knew the mileage was over 200,000, he simply stated, “No.”