It’s every consumer’s nightmare to invest in a used car only to find out after the fact that the car has a secret past involving quite a few serious damages — and for seven car buyers in New Jersey, that’s exactly what happened.
As a result, 42-year-old Jonathan Olin of Manalapan NJ, the owner and operator of DandD Auto Sales, has been convicted of selling used cars that had been damaged in Hurricane Sandy, without telling his customers about the cars’ histories.
Olin managed to take in about $86,000 in the entire scheme, which lasted from February 2013 to July 2013. The damaged cars were acquired at an auction, where they were sold explicitly as having water damage from the storm.
All eight vehicles had been auctioned off by the same company, and were not given “bills of sale” due to the damage; each car was sold with the agreement that it would only be used for spare parts. After purchasing the cars, Olin managed to obtain fraudulent vehicle titles that didn’t list any damage.
On August 25, Olin pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by deception, wherein he admitted that he obtained eight vehicles that had been damaged in the flood, with the intent to sell them under fraudulent history reports (only seven of the eight were sold). Olin is also required to pay full restitution to the seven consumers who unknowingly bought the damaged vehicles.
On Friday, December 5, Olin was officially sentenced to three years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. in a Monmouth County court, and both of Olin’s accomplices (a suspended Motor Vehicle Commission technician and a dealership salesman) are being investigated and charged as well.
The court is charging Olin and his accomplices, Jessie Dinome and Jacob Douek, to the fullest extent of the law. In the words of Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman, Olin “proved himself to be the lowest form of con artist and parasite” by taking advantage of something that caused so much tragedy in the area, and then putting countless lives at risk by selling cars that could malfunction in a dozen different ways.
“It is always wise for the consumer to ask the dealership to run a Carfax report on the VIN to verify the history of the vehicle. This report should expose if an insurance company intended the car to be salvaged. Vehicles with salvaged titles are only worth 50% of normal value,” says Greg Brooksher, Used Car Director at Hudiburg Nissan.