Watch Out For Walt - Confessions of a Curber

I remember my first time. It was so easy. So thrilling. And I walked away with a couple thousand bucks in my pocket.

It happened after the summer flooding in Alberta and southeastern B.C. Basements filled, streets were running with water, and cars were left to float and sink.

One day, I walked past a private home and saw, what I thought, was a relatively normal car for sale cheap.

Apart from a couple of scratches and damp seats, it seemed road worthy. I asked about the car. It was found full of flood water. It wasn’t insured at the time of the flood. And the owner wanted nothing to do with it.

I bought the car for a few hundred bucks. Originally, I had no intent to do what I did. I planned to sell the car for parts. But it must have dried out as it sat. The engine still ran.

Suddenly, I had an idea. Since the car looked fine, no one had to know its history. I was a genius.


*What is a Curber? – An individual posing as a private seller, but selling vehicles for profit as a business.  A curber often misrepresents the history and condition of a vehicle.  Curbers offer none of the protections the law provides for purchases from a Vehicle Sales Authority licensed dealer.

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After a night in the garage with a heater and a little scrubbing, I posted an ad on Craigslist:

“Car for sale. Bought new car – no room in garage. Need to sell ASAP!!! Scratches, but in great condition. Call cell and we’ll talk price.”

Minutes later I got a call from a sixteen-year old kid – a little younger than my son. I told him to meet me at the local mall at 6:00 p.m.

I arrived at 6:20, telling him I was in a hurry to pick up my son from soccer practice. Turns out he played, too. After some soccer gossip, we got down to business.

I knew a kid his age just wanted a ride to show off to his friends, so we spent very little time on the details. I just told him the car was in perfect condition and was never in any accidents.

“No problems as far as I know,” I said.

The kid was sold. He trusted me. I never gave him my full name, and he never gave me his. He gave me the cash, I gave him the car. I had never registered it in my name. Smart. All was good.

Later, I learned about flood vehicles. Flooding can damage the computer system, which control things like the brakes, and rots the vehicle from inside out. And flood vehicles don’t qualify for on-road licensing or use in B.C. or anywhere in Canada. Who knew?

My mind went to the kid I sold the vehicle to. I felt a twinge of guilt. I hoped it wouldn’t fail while he was driving. Then my eyes darted to my stash of cash…

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4 thoughts on “Part I – Confessions of a Curber: Walt Sells a Flood-Damaged Vehicle

    Dave says:

    Your stories are fiction BS. It’s obvious you represent the car dealers with car lots and all the overhead and are trying to scare people away from private sellers. You leading people to believe you are safer buying from a select group is also BS. These people are at the auctions as buyers and sellers. If the vehicle history isn’t reported through ICBC or Carfax etc they don’t reveal the true history.

    Cathy says:

    I don’t think dealers sell without a car history and that seems to be what this is telling you – ask for one!!
    I bet there are a lot of people who’ve been ripped off and will tell you it’s not BS. I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way that my air bag doesn’t work.

    christien says:

    They are definitely not BS. my brother bought a stolen car from a guy like this a few months ago and he was out every dime for the car until they caught the guy. it isn’t that they don’t want you to buy privately it is that they want you to be smart about it and be educated or you will lose money

    Larry says:

    There is nothing wrong with buying a good used car privately if you do your due diligence.
    Ask to see the registration and the Id of the seller, ask for a car proof same as a dealer provides and check the vin number. If the vehicle does have service history review it and ask to have a third party inspection done. If the seller has no records or wont safety the vehicle run. If you have reviewed some documentation test drive the car with a second party so you get a second read on the car Without the radio on. Listen for odd noises and bad shifting of the transmission.
    If you are satisfied leave a Refundable Deposit on a written agreement subject to a suitable mechanical inspection on behalf of the purchaser. However have realistic expectations on safety inspections only deal with the major issues. Don’t get hung up on the little things. Good cars can have little issues too. Major components and safety related matters are the most important issues. Compare price by looking at comparable models on or other internet venues and allow for mileage and condition. Remember to check the car proof for liens as this car will be held for that lien if necessary until paid out. Sometimes liens can be released but you have to have a letter of no further interest which the seller must arrange not you. What you pay is important but how you pay is equally important. A draft is better than cash as you do not want to carry cash for obvious reasons and a draft can be cancelled if you do not like the vehicle. Plus you get a receipt with the name and bank information.
    Just some basic thoughts that I think may make buying a car privately work. We don’t all have to go through dealer to sell our car and buy one if we are careful.

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