HAMILTON, Ind. -- A former Hamilton County man accused of faking an odometer reading during a Craigslist car sale says he didn’t do it.
Monte Erby, formerly of Noblesville, appeared in court Monday to face a felony count of altering an odometer.
Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney asked Erby if he altered the odometer.
“Not at all,” said Erby, who did not have an explanation for the discrepancy in the odometer reading. “I’m not pleading guilty.”
Steve Hardin, who lives on Indianapolis' west side bought a 2002 Oldsmobile Aurora from Erby in 2014.
The car was advertised on Craigslist as having 63,619 miles on the odometer.
Initially, the seller identified himself as “Martie Thompson of Anderson, IN,” according to court documents.
After a test drive, Hardin agreed to pay $3,100 for the vehicle.
“I took the car home, and it started having trouble,” said Hardin.
Hardin took the car to a dealership where service records showed the car didn’t have 63,619 miles, but rather, it had at least 127,002 miles on the odometer.
“Right then, I knew I had been scammed,” said Hardin.
Hardin contacted the seller, where he learned his name was not Martie Thompson, it was Monte Erby, according to court documents.
Hardin contacted Indiana State Police, who obtained the original ad from craigslist as well as the vehicle’s service records.
Indiana State Police detectives also spoke with the former owner of the vehicle, who said they sold it in 2014 during a community garage sale with approximately 126,000 miles on the odometer.
Police interviewed Erby who stated that he took the Aurora to a handyman named Wayne.
“Mr. Erby stated that Wayne fixed a minor mechanical issue with the vehicle’s brakes and then offered to list the vehicle for sale in exchange for a cut of the vehicle’s sale price,” read the probable cause affidavit. “Mr. Erby stated that he did not alter the odometer in the vehicle, nor did he instruct Wayne to or have knowledge of Wayne altering the odometer.”
Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said it’s a good idea to run a car’s VIN through Carfax, Autocheck, or a similar service before you buy a car.
One-third of all car sales are through private sales, such as through Craigslist and other online forums, according to vehicle history report company Carfax.
Some private sellers may not disclose a car’s hidden problems or the real mileage so that they can get more money for the vehicle.
Hardin said he couldn't legally title and sell the vehicle because of the odometer, so it’s just sitting in his driveway.
“I thought I had done everything I could to protect myself, and I didn’t,” said Hardin.
He hopes Erby gets convicted and returns the $3,100 for the car.
Call 6 Investigates asked Erby if he plans to return Steve Hardin’s money and Erby did not respond.