CALL 6: Man charged with odometer fraud after craigslist sale

Ad said 63,619 miles; records show twice that
Posted at 11:02 AM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 23:55:51-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- A former Hamilton County man is facing criminal charges for allegedly faking the odometer reading on a car he sold on craigslist.

Monte Erby, formerly of Noblesville, is charged with one felony count of altering an odometer.

His trial is scheduled for October 11 in Madison County court.

Steve Hardin, who lives on Indianapolis' west side, told Call 6 Investigates he bought a 2002 Oldsmobile Aurora from Erby in 2014.

The car was advertised on craigslist as having 63,619 miles on the odometer.

“I was looking for a car with low miles that I could get for a reasonable price,” said Hardin. “So, I went on craigslist and I started shopping around.”

Originally, the seller identified himself as “Martie Thompson of Anderson, IN,” according to the probable cause.

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 said 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.”

Call 6 Investigates tried to track down Erby at his Noblesville home, but a renter living at the home said Erby moved to Michigan.

Call 6 Investigates also tried to reach Erby on the cell phone number he provided to Hardin, but the person who answered said he was not Erby.

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.

“Believe it or not, people don’t always tell the truth,” said Perrine. “They’re in it to make the money, and the most money they can.”

Hardin said he can’t legally title and sell the car 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.

Ironically, Steve Hardin now sells cars for a living.

“People should be more honest,” said Hardin.

One third of cars are purchased through private sales, such as through craigslist and other online forums, according to vehicle history report company Carfax.

Watch below as we talk with Chris Basso from Carfax about how to avoid the latest used car scams.