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Buying a vehicle online-is there a lien?

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With the increase of classified sites like Auto Trader, eBay, Kijiji, Craigslist and Let Go there are increasing number of people being scammed or lied to during transactions between individuals regarding the status of a vehicle or vehicle history. One thing most people do not ask when looking for a previously owned vehicle; is there an active lien? In Ontario for instance when you purchase a vehicle the title or registration is given to you, and it does not show any liens on the registration. So for example, if I were to purchase a $100,000.00 vehicle and I lease or finance that vehicle it will have a lien with the bank or whichever lender I went with. So when you are purchasing a vehicle, you should always call a private investigator to run a lien search for you. If you were to purchase a vehicle for cash and you just met the person and didn’t save any of their information you may purchase a vehicle that has a lien and no recourse other than to pay the lien before placing the vehicle in your name. Whitney Joy Smith the owner of The Smith Investigation Agency almost had an issue with this personally. Whitney was searching for an off-road vehicle to use while up north, and she had finally found the vehicle she was looking for. Arrangements were made with the seller, and everything was organized Whitney was so excited about the vehicle that she overlooked the lien search until the morning she was going to pick the vehicle up. Now Whitney had asked the seller if there was an active lien on the vehicle and the seller said no there was not but she had not completed the search yet. Thankfully Whitney completed the lien search the morning before purchasing the vehicle and found out that the vehicle had a $11,870.34 lien. Thankfully Whitney was aware of this before hand and Whitney changed the meet location to the finance office where the loan was issued from in Toronto. The seller was confused as to why the location had changed but Whitney informed him of the knowledge she had of the lien on the vehicle. The seller did not even bring the ownership with him and insisted he just mail it to her. Whitney has seen far too many scams and was not going to allow that to happen. Thankfully just up the road was a service Ontario she walked with the seller to the service Ontario and got a new ownership and then walked into the finance office and in front of them with a contract she paid of the individual’s loan after the ownership was signed over in front of witnesses.

Now this situation does not happen often, and many of us have bought and sold online with no issues, but you can never be too careful. Thankfully Whitney is a female private investigator who deals with fraud and online scams often and knows how to handle a situation like this.

The Canadian government website regarding statistics Canada mentions, “Fraud is a crime that threatens every Canadian, regardless of their education, age or income. From January 2014 to December 2016, it is estimated that Canadians lost over $290 million to fraudsters.”

We have heard that nearly 1 in 3 Canadians are affected by some form of fraud or scam. Let’s say that only 1 in 1000 are affected by a vehicle scam where a lien is active, and the purchaser does not know. Today Saturday, August 26, 2017, on Kijiji there are approximately 385,853 cars and trucks listed in Canada. That leaves a significant amount of Canadians exposed to fraud.

Kijiji Canada Vehicle Ads Saturday, August 26, 2017


Alberta 78,566 Ads

British Columbia 23,895 Ads

Manitoba 14,952 Ads

New Brunswick 10,336 Ads

Newfoundland 3,459 Ads

Nova Scotia 13,992 Ads

Ontario 132,918 Ads

Prince Edward Island 2,264 Ads

Quebec 87,040 Ads

Saskatchewan 17,941 Ads

Territories 490 Ads


In an effort to see Canadians not fall victim to fraud, please call a private eye anytime you need investigative services even if you just have a question. We are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have. If you are looking to purchase a vehicle and you would like a lien search complete it is just $50.00 but could save you a lot of trouble by just completing upfront. If you would like to have a lien search completed by one of our Private Investigators, please call an office near you. We have offices in Toronto, Mississauga, Scarborough, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Ottawa, Barrie, North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins and Thunder Bay. We also operate throughout Ontario including Hamilton, Niagara region, London, and Windsor areas. A private detective can give you the answers you need to purchase with peace of mind. if you have any questions.

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