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DMV: Used Car Dealer Didn't Give Titles to Buyers

Posted December 17, 2007
Updated December 18, 2007

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— The former owner of a used car dealership in Garner faces criminal charges after failing to deliver vehicle titles and registrations to at least 12 buyers.

Donald Wayne Smith, the previous owner of Auto X-Sales, was charged with collecting taxes and title and registration fees from customers and never handing over the documents. At least 12 people complained of such situations.

Investigators said a finance company that the car dealership owed money has been holding the titles and registrations.

Without those documents, customers cannot legally drive the vehicles they bought.

Lewis Cotten said he paid Smith $17,352.62 for his fully loaded, dream truck, but it's been sitting in his driveway for over a month. All the while, Cotten, said he has been responsible for keeping up with payments on the truck.

"If I get out on the road and drive this vehicle, it's possible I can get pulled. And if I get pulled and don't show them my registration card, I lose my license," Cotten said.

"I had to borrow a car. It's frustrating, very frustrating," he added.

Smith spoke to WRAL by phone on Monday night. He said he got himself into a bad situation with his business and is doing his best to remedy the situation. For now, he said, all he can offer customers is an apology.

New ownership has taken over Auto X-Sales.

Department of Motor Vehicles official said they will turn the case over to the state Attorney General's Office. In the meantime, the DMV will work to get temporary tags for the customers so they can drive their vehicles.

"I'll be satisfied when I can drive the truck," Cotten said.

Smith was released from jail after posting a $36,000 bond.



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  • 3 Sails Dec 18, 2007

    I can't help but wonder what this "situation" was. Someone should check into his background a little better...he has a QUESTIONABLE history at both new and used car dealerships east and northeast of Raleigh.

  • Sandollar Dec 18, 2007

    If this crook collected taxes and registration fees and did not turn them over to the government, isn't that fraud? Should the IRS have an eye on this,too?

  • lilwil Dec 18, 2007

    Hopefully he will not be able to "con" anyone else. Dishonesty does NOT pay.

    I guess he thought folk would just go on and get amnesia and never think about him again....HE GOT FOOLED.

    I hope they can get their money and/or titles to their cars.

  • baileysmom3 Dec 18, 2007

    you dont get the title until the loan is paid off completely. dugh.

  • Paladin2 Dec 18, 2007

    "I have a hard time feeling sorry for these folks, they should have noticed something was wrong before they left the lot. Consider the car a loaner until they get registration".
    smitty - Apparently they were not as intelligent as you think you are even without you knowing all the facts.

  • smitty Dec 18, 2007

    "point being - no one saw this coming and neither would you.You don't know what's going on and you should stop criticizing people who were affected by this. maybe your answer is to stop paying your bills. real good, buddy."

    I don't buy my cars from shady car dealers on the side of the road. Why would they keep paying for something that there is a real possibility that it will get repossessed by the auction or bank anyways?

  • hdsoftail Dec 18, 2007

    I dont understand why you cant drive your car. Just because the car is financed dosent mean you cant get a tag with proper insurnace. Get insurance and tags and go driving. To be sure you got everything you need to get tags when you bought the car. If not your own fault.

  • dh1964 Dec 18, 2007

    I don't think the writer of this story completely understands the significance of what has happened. It's not simply that this guy collected taxes and registration fees and didn't deliver title. Rather, he hasn't delivered title because he doesn't own it! The finance company that allowed Smith to get the cars has first dibs on the title, then the bank or finance company that loaned money to the buyers. Last comes the buyer. If Smith doesn't pay his debt, then the buyer can lose the car. The down payment, and any car payments might be down the drain.

  • BIGCHEESECAMATO Dec 18, 2007

    if you are looking for honesty.... contact the "BIG CHEESE"

  • TruthBKnown Dec 18, 2007

    "Tired of being badgered?"

    HEY! WATCH IT NOW!!! ;)