Agency advises caution, research when buying used vehicles
PHOENIX – A Valley used car dealer with a history of not providing vehicle titles and using bait-and-switch tactics has been arrested on theft charges by detectives with the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.
Robert Salmo, owner of the defunct Trade-In Auto Brokers dealership, had recently advertised a 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix online under the name of that business. An out-of-state buyer contacted Salmo and purchased the vehicle for $7,000. The buyer then sent an auto hauler to pick up the vehicle, but Salmo kept telling the buyer he didn’t have the title yet. After some research, the buyer discovered that the title was clear and in Salmo’s possession. He later found the same vehicle for sale again on the same website.
The case was assigned to ADOT’s Office of Inspector General by the Attorney General’s Office. ADOT detectives opened an investigation that led to Salmo’s arrest for theft of the buyer’s money without delivering the vehicle.
During the course of the investigation, detectives discovered that Salmo had pulled similar scams on a few other buyers. Unable to obtain a title, one buyer had to sell the vehicle he purchased, losing a substantial amount of money.
Salmo was booked at the Fourth Avenue Jail on Sept. 5 and is currently facing counts of Class 3 and Class 4 felony theft as well as several misdemeanor charges, including fraud schemes and selling on a canceled dealer’s license.
This case is not the first run-in Salmo has had with ADOT detectives. He was arrested in July 2017 for failure to appear and pay fines on several prior violations.
Generally speaking, when it comes to buying a used vehicle either from a used car dealer or in a private sale, it’s important to take the time and ask lots of questions and do your research. There are no dumb questions in a big purchase like this. If the seller is acting suspiciously, being evasive or uncooperative, walk away. Take the time to find the right purchase.
Tips can be found on ADOT’s website at azdot.gov/CarBuyingTips.
Seek help if you’ve been scammed. ADOT is here to help victims of fraud involving vehicle titles, registrations and driver licenses. Call our 24-hour fraud hotline at 877.712.2370 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.