Used-car nightmare leaves Montreal-area woman on hook for $30K
CBC Montreal followed trail of suspicious transactions, trying to find seller of second-hand SUV
When Stacey Attey bought her second-hand SUV last year, it had everything she wanted.
The 2013 Nissan Rogue had low mileage, Bluetooth and a great price — $13,500.
Her mechanic confirmed it was mechanically sound with no stolen parts.
Satisfied, Attey handed over the money and did the transfer of ownership the same day.
But in August, 13 months after Attey bought the vehicle, the Bank of Montreal contacted her.
To her astonishment, the bank told her the man who had sold her the SUV still owed nearly $30,000 on it.
Under the man's financing agreement with the bank, he had no right to sell Attey the SUV.
As the new owner, Attey was on the hook for his debt.
"There's no way," said Attey, a single mom, who relies on the SUV for work. "I have no budget to pay it."
Panicked, Attey tried to find the seller, but he'd disappeared.
"I feel very helpless," said Attey.
Flurry of purchases
Unfortunately, Attey didn't know she should check for outstanding debts before buying any used car.
The Quebec Ministry of Justice runs an online registry known as the Registry of Personal and Movable Real Rights, which records all liens. In Attey's case, the Nissan had a reserve of ownership on it, meaning the bank owns the car until it is paid off.
With the car's vehicle identification number, or VIN, Attey would have seen the Nissan hadn't been paid for.
"It would have really eliminated this headache," said Attey, who contacted CBC Montreal for help.
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CBC looked into the seller, who had told Attey his name was Ahmad Kakaizada.
CBC's investigation reveals that Kakaizada had sold the Nissan to a used car dealership a week before Attey purchased it.
When she bought the vehicle, Kakaizada said he was representing the dealership. He never mentioned a debt on the car.
Attey's Nissan wasn't the only car Kakaizada purchased. The registry shows he bought four other high-end vehicles with an estimated value of more than a quarter million dollars.
He bought all of the cars with financing during a four-week period in the spring of 2016. Not only did he fail to make the required payments for Attey's vehicle, but court documents show he didn't make payments on at least three of the others.
The vehicles were a new Land Rover, an Acura SUV and two Mercedes.
According to court documents, two of those vehicles were flipped to unsuspecting buyers like Attey.
One of the Mercedes was found in a container at the Port of Montreal, where it was set to be shipped overseas.
At least three of the financing companies involved are trying to recover the cars.
Kakaizada's address in court documents leads to a nondescript commercial space in Montreal's Park Extension neighbourhood.
Kakaizada is no longer there, but the current tenant told CBC his mail is still being delivered to that address.
Baliffs sent to find Kakaizada also came up empty-handed.
In the Quebec registry, Kakazaida's birth date is listed as 1966, which would have made him 50 when he sold Attey the SUV last year.
But Attey says the man she met was much younger, likely in his early to mid-20s.
"It's clear this is a fraud case," said Attey, when CBC told her about the discrepancy.
Every time I drive it, I'm anxious. I don't know if someone can pull me over.- SUV buyer Stacey Attey
Legally, BMO has the right to pursue Attey because it still owns the SUV.
But Attey said she feels as if the bank is trying to make her the scapegoat for what she thinks is its mistake.
She can't believe the bank approved a financing contract with Kakaizada in the first place.
"If you're going to extend a loan to somebody, I'd assume they'd have to have collateral to make sure that in case they can't pay for the loan, that BMO can get their money back," she said.
Attey says it took BMO more than a year to track her down. She suspects they just want someone to pay off the debt because they can't find Kakaizada.
"Normally, when someone defaults on their loan, it's like three months, and they are hunting you like crazy," said Attey.
But in a letter Attey received from BMO, the bank said "there was no information available to us that reasonably would have been expected to raise any suspicion."
"I assure you that we would not approve any loan from an applicant whose credit bureau information was contrary to the Bank's guidelines," the letter goes on to say.
The Bank of Montreal wouldn't comment on Attey's specific case, however, in an statement emailed to CBC late Tuesday, BMO spokesperson Ralph Marranca said the bank does do its due diligence when it approves loans.
When there are issues, Marranca said the bank "investigates and pursues every avenue to resolve these matters."
In some instances, "our only recourse is to repossess the vehicle which was pledged as security against the loan," he said.
Identity of real seller unclear
In hindsight, Attey said there was a red flag when she met the man claiming to be Kakaizada.
Although she found the ad on Kijiji under private sellers, Kakaizada told her he was from a used car dealership called Gestion Immobilière Kaperonis Inc.
"I was a bit taken aback," said Attey. "I told him I don't want to go through a dealership."
But he assured her it wouldn't be an issue and that the price was competitive.
CBC spoke to George Kaperonis, who runs a mobile used-car dealership.
Court records show Kaperonis's company was also involved in the transaction for the Land Rover Kakaizada bought in 2016.
Kaperonis denied knowing Kakaizada personally.
He told CBC one of his sales representatives bought the Nissan from Kakaizada.
At the time, he claims, there was no lien registered on it.
However, when Attey bought the SUV, the registry shows the lien had already been in place for more than three weeks.
The man Kaperonis said was the sales representative who sold the car to Attey denies he was involved with the transaction, claiming it was yet another person.
Attey is now fighting to keep the SUV, but if she doesn't hand it over, the bank is now threatening to take her to court.
Both the bank and the consumer protection bureau encouraged Attey to sue Kakaizada.
Attey used all of her savings to buy the SUV. If it's repossessed, she'll be out the SUV and her money.
She hopes her story will serve as a warning to others.
Afraid that the SUV may be seized at any time, Attey recently cancelled a road trip to Toronto so her grandmother could visit a sick friend.
"Every time I drive it, I'm anxious," said Attey. "I don't know if someone can pull me over" and seize the vehicle.