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DALLAS (CBS11 NEWS) – Everything is bigger in Texas, especially odometer fraud. The Lone Star state ranks second in the country for rollbacks, costing drivers $600 million dollars a year, according to Carfax.

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So, who is at risk of having one of these cars?

Omar Khalil certainly didn’t suspect anything. A new student in a new country, Khalil came from Germany to study Mechanical Engineering in Plano. He paid $1500 for a 2000 Dodge Ram pickup with 73,000 miles.

“I thought, yeah, low mileage. The car will serve its purpose,” he told CBS11 News. “It’s good enough for me.”

But when Khalil went to the mechanic for inspection, he found that his pickup actually had a mileage of 273,000 miles. And just like that, like millions of other Texans, he too was the victim of odometer fraud. The seller had bought Khalil’s pickup at an auction, where the odometer was rolled back. Omar’s dream car ended up in a junk yard, sold for a few hundred dollars. “I thought it’s too dangerous if I take it on the highway, and something happens,” he said.

Consumer Justice found 200 cases of odometer rollbacks in Dallas. Carfax – a company that supplies vehicle history information said rollback cars are dangerous for the person driving and to others on the road since routine maintenance is based on mileage. A car with a rolled back odometer could be missing major maintenance appointments.

“There’s no way to tell, just by looking at it,” Larry Gamache of Carfax told Consumer Justice.

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Gamache said it is very easy to rollback an odometer these days. All a conman needs is a computer program and a few minutes.
“By removing 22,000 miles from this odometer, you could inflate the value of the car by thousands of dollars,” he said.

The result — the person buying is it ripped off by $4,000 to $5,000.

So who is doing this?

“The overwhelming majority of rollbacks are happening by people who have leased vehicles,” Gamache said. He said a lot of people will pay someone $75 to rollback the odometer to avoid the huge penalties of going over their mileage in the lease agreement.

“Buying a car that has been leased, puts you at risk,” he said. “You’re also at risk if you’re looking for a high-end luxury vehicle at a low- end price.”

Gamache said the only way to protect yourself is to get a vehicle history report before you buy. The report will alert you of odometer tampering or inconsistencies. Also, stay wary of the used car lots or individual that won’t provide a vehicle history report. Or those with a sob story like getting deployed or a sick child — reasons why they have to get rid of a low mileage car fast and cheap. Lastly, if your report shows you were a victim of odometer fraud, report it to the state and police.

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