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Ontario Man Gets More Than $62K in Penalties...

Ontario Man Gets More Than $62K in Penalties, Probation in Curbsiding Case

A Windsor, Ontario man pleaded guilty to two counts of charges involving illegal car sales earlier this week and will have to shell out $62,500 along with taking a year of probation.

More specifically, the charges to which Bahjat Touma pleaded guilty were one count of acting as a dealer without benefit of registration and one count of acting as a salesperson without registration. These charges fall under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act.

A $25,000 fine was levied upon Touma for each count, and he has to pay a 25-percent victim fine surcharge. All told, this adds up to $62,500. Along with his one-year probation sentence, Touma cannot participate in the car business unless he registers as a dealer.

The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council had charged Touma after receiving complaints from customers in the Windsor/LaSalle/Amherstburg/Essex area and conducting an investigation. It was discovered Touma allegedly sold more than 10 vehicles between March and August of last year, varying between representing himself as a private seller and actually selling at the dealership, OMVIC explained.

And this was not Touma's first run-in with the law.

"In some instances he represented himself as a private seller while at other times he sold at a Windsor dealership (the dealership has also been charged)," officials noted. "(Tuesday's) convictions for illegal vehicle sales were not the first for Touma, having been convicted numerous times for similar actions over the past 12 years.

"Curbsiding is a growing problem in Ontario. Commonly curbsiders pose as private sellers to avoid detection, and today's online marketplaces make it easier for curbsiders to list and sell vehicles with anonymity," they continued, adding that roughly a quarter of classified auto ads are from curbsiders.

"These illegal sellers often misrepresent themselves and the vehicles they trade, which are frequently accident damaged (or previous write-offs), odometer tampered or they have liens," officials emphasized.

Alberta Dealer Gets 2-Year Prison Sentence

Further west, the Calgary Herald reported this week that an Alberta used-car dealer has received a two-year prison term for embezzlement.

Judge Bruce Fraser of the Alberta Court of Appeal handed down the sentence to Eddie Frijters, who apparently embezzled more than $300,000 from 17 victims. One of those victims was a dealership, swindled out of more than $100,000, according to the report.

His guilty plea in August included 13 counts of fraud and theft per the Criminal Code along with eight Fair Trading Act violation charges, the report noted. These occurred between 2006 and 2009.

"There were numerous transactions of deceit or theft over a 22-month period," Fraser was quoted in the report as saying. "In fact, seven different victims were defrauded after he lost his license or it was cancelled. This was a consignment business in which he received money from the victims and either he kept the money or the vehicle."

Frijters has yet to reimburse the victims' losses, Fraser said, according to the report. He has also declared bankruptcy, meaning these victims likely won't ever get their money back. Frijters apparently pumped the money into his Black Horse Automotive business, which Fraser described as failing, the report said.