WBTV investigation finds salvage, flood cars for sale on dealership website

WBTV started investigating complaints of used cars being sold to customers but the vehicle history wasn’t properly disclosed.
WBTV started investigating complaints of used cars being sold to customers but the vehicle history wasn’t properly disclosed.
Updated: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:10 PM EST

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Totaled cars, flooded vehicles, ending up back on dealership lots and sold to unsuspecting customers.

WBTV started investigating complaints of used cars being sold to customers but the vehicle history not properly disclosed.

WBTV had a lot of questions after our reporting found salvaged vehicles for sale on the dealership website for Nissan of Shelby.

WBTV started digging on the website autoAstat, searching thousands of past vehicle auctions. We found nearly a dozen cars Nissan of Shelby either bought or sold at insurance salvage auctions with several of them ending up for sale on their website, including a 2017 BMW.

A Carfax report shows a vehicle’s history and gathers data from police crash reports, repair shops and inspection stations. For the BMW it shows a salvaged title issued in New York but not one when it’s listed for sale by Nissan of Shelby in North Carolina. The report warns “it looks the salvage title from New York didn’t get transferred to North Carolina” and “This may be a case of title washing.”

WBTV also obtained customer complaints about the dealership submitted to the North Carolina Attorney General. Two of them claim they were sold cars that had previous damage that wasn’t disclosed.

One of the customers said they were told the car had no prior damage but “a third party inspected it and noted extensive front end damage and pulled the Carfax which showed a serious accident.”

WBTV spoke with investigators form the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles License and Theft Bureau about title washing and disclosure failures.

“If something is not disclosed, is that something that y’all take seriously?” a WBTV reporter asked.

“We do take it seriously. And once the complaint’s filed, we generate an investigation and if we were able to develop probable cause, we will make a criminal charge,” Captain JT Ratliff said.

Ratliff and Lt. Troutman said title washing is a way to make more money off of selling a salvaged vehicle.

“There’s definitely checks and balances with this state, as well as all 50 states, where we can run and make sure brands carry on, make sure that mileage flows the way it should” Lt. Troutmna said.

“We also have several law enforcement databases that we can check to make sure that’s not occurred.”

Nissan of Shelby’s General Manager, Sam Kazran, originally agreed to an interview with WBTV but later backed out. He has changed his willingness and desire to interview on a couple of occasions.

Kazran denies that Nissan of Shelby is failing to disclose vehicle history of salvaged and flooded cars to customers.

This is not his first run-in with controversy.

Kazran used to own car dealerships across Florida, including Hyundai of North Jacksonville. In 2012, the Federal Election Commission received an order from a judge against Kazran finding that his business illegally reimbursed nearly $68,000 to dealership employees who donated to the political campaign of his business partner, Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan.

Court records show he also has financial troubles.

In 2015, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy claiming he owed $43 million to creditors. In a civil lawsuit filed in Florida in 2017, a lender claims Kazran failed to pay back a $1.5 million loan. The lender repossessed cars from one of Kazran’s dealerships as collateral, but they claim he then stole two of them back and listed them for sale on another dealership website.

Even with that history, Kazran can still get a license to sell cars in North Carolina.

Records obtained by WBTV show Kazran has been granted a sales representative license. The only thing that would disqualify him is being convicted of a crime related to vehicle sales.

In an email to WBTV, Kazran wrote “It is very clear to me, based on your characterization that you do not fully understand the lawful process for state of North Carolina and reporting for branded title vehicles.”

And “with respect to your unfounded personal attacks on me, I do not understand how/why a news reporter is attacking the personal integrity of a citizen.”

Customers who want to make sure they’re buying a car that doesn’t have a salvage or rebuilt title can independently verify the vehicle’s history using Carfax or other vehicle history report websites.

To file a complaint with law enforcement, contact the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles License and Theft Bureau. You can also file a complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General and the United States Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

To contact the WBTV Investigates team, email investigates@wbtv.com.