I was looking to buy a used vehicle in Calgary, and found a good priced one being sold by Larry Toyne and 1582529 Alberta Ltd. on Kijiji. They appeared to import vehicles from the United States. Larry Toyne was quite personable and seemed very forthright, even sharing his full name with me. They had a lot of vehicles listed on the site, especially Chevrolet Express vans and RVs.
I googled his phone number, 403 808 5579, as well as the alternate number, 403 540 1419 and didn't find anything bad. 1582529 Alberta Ltd. didn't turn up much. Larry Toyne appeared to have formerly had a business (or maybe he still does) called C & L Auto Brokers, listed in Cochrane, and I couldn't find much on that either.
It took a number of days to get the VIN for the vehicle I was interested in so I could run a CarProof and CarFax report. There was always some excuse or delay. But Larry Toyne happily told me the vehicle I was interested in hadn't been in any accidents, and that they only imported the highest quality product, using a paint gauge to check out the body panels and make sure it was clean.
I ran the VIN, 1GCSGAFX7B1139215. The CarProof and CarFax both turned up nothing suspicious in the accident category. It did show that the vehicle was not listed as imported into Canada by the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV). I asked Larry Toyne about this and he told me he had imported it properly, and was just waiting for the Form 2, which arrives within a week of importation, and is signed off on by a federal inspector. This seemed plausible, if odd, given what I knew about the import process.
I arranged for my own mechanic to inspect the vehicle thoroughly. Larry Toyne tried to dissaude me, telling me the vehicle was still under manufacturer's warranty, which made sense given the year and mileage, and that it had already undergone two AMVIC inspections, and that I could sue any mechanic who gave a false inspection. Having seen a lot of fraud so far, I decided to get an independent opinion.
While the mechanic was looking it over, I called RIV and gave them the VIN for the vehicle. Red flag #1: they told me that they had no record of this vehicle in their system, and that meant that it had not yet been declared for import.
I then googled the VIN. It showed up on a website called salvagedb.com. There, it was listed as having been sold at a Manheim Simulcast Salvage Auction. This was weird, because both CarProof and CarFax reported it as having been sold as a fleet/rental vehicle. I decided to call Manheim and ask them about this discrepancy.
Manheim told me that the vehicle hadn't been sold as salvage, exactly, but that it had been sold by one of their subsidiaries, TRA (Total Resource Auctions). The customer service representative told me she couldn't give me any specific info about the vehicle, but made it plain and clear that this auction type was for vehicles in bad shape: high mileage, or major accidents, and always in not-running condition. Since this was a newish vehicle with low mileage, I asked, does that mean it was likely in a major accident? She confirmed that would be the logical conclusion.
The inspection was done and my mechanic found major frame damage, a leaking rear seal, and many other problems. He thought the van had been hit very, very hard in the front, and that this damage was the result. He recommended very strongly that I not buy it. He told me Larry Toyne came to pick it up and didn't even stick around, leaving immediately and claming he had a tooth ache.
I soon had a text from Larry saying he needed a deposit to hold the vehicle. I didn't reply. 10 minutes later he sent me another one complaining that I was ignoring him. Then he texted me again shortly after, telling me he had the Form 2 completed and it was all ready to go: clearly a lie, because less than 3 hours before RIV had never heard of it. Later that evening, he told me he had sold the vehicle and was sick of waiting for me.
It seems likely that Larry Toyne and/or 1582529 Alberta Ltd. bought this vehicle non-running at an accident auction and fraudulently claimed that it had no accidents, and that he had had it thoroughly inspected before he bought it. He also claimed it had passed two AMVIC inspections, but no mechanic could possibly have inspected it and declared it fit without being a fraud. He definitely lied about having imported it properly, and lied about having received the Form 2 to finalize the process.
I had also asked him about his other stock earlier in the process, which he claimed was all in clear, perfect, no accident condition. Doing more research, I found other dealers in the US selling vehicles with identical modifications to the cargo area honestly, as former fleet vehicles that had been in accidents.
Had I bought this vehicle, or, I suspect, any other vehicle from Larry Toyne or 1582529 Alberta Ltd., I would have been unable to register it in Canada, and unable to get warranty service: a thorough rip-off.