by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Everyone has heard about flipping houses, but what about flipping vehicles?
Police call it "curbstoning" and said it is a huge problem in the Charlotte area.
Action 9 found out it is costly and dangerous, and talked to one curbstoner who is now behind bars.
North Carolina law says if you try to sell five or more vehicles per year than you need a dealer's license, but a lot of people buy cars, fix them and sell them quickly to unsuspecting buyers.
Marcus Bradley is considered one of the most notorious curbstoners in recent Charlotte history by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
He started working on vehicles at 18 and was seriously flipping them by 22.
"I could fix it maybe that day and then have it out the next day," said Bradley.
Bradley would spend as little as $50 to buy a vehicle and another few hundred fixing it.
Then he would turn around and sell it. He said he usually raked in between $4,000 to $6,000 a month and one time, $22,000.
"It was pretty easy," said Bradley.
"You do not know what that car really is, you do not really know what its life has been," said Better Business Bureau President Tom Bartholomy.
If the vehicle is stolen, you could be out the money and the ride -- even if it is not, you could end up with a vehicle that is a money pit or even worse, a death trap.
"You might think you are getting something, but truthfully, you are not getting what you see," said Bradley.
The undercover officers who busted Bradley do not have exact numbers on how widespread the crime is, but they said a lot of curbstoners use Craigslist.
So Action 9 went on that site and found examples of where more than five vehicles were tied to the same phone number. For example, Action 9 traced seven vehicles to one number and called it.
The person on the other end said other people sell vehicles on his lot, then his story changed and he said he didn't know what we were talking about.
As for Bradley, he sold vehicles the old-fashioned way, putting them in parking lots with "for sale" signs.
He is in prison until the next year, but feels plenty of other curbstoners are out there looking for a buyer.
Bradley said what he would do before buying a vehicle – test drive it, have a mechanic check it out and make sure all vehicle identification numbers match.
Make sure the title shows the right owner, year, make and model.
Swap the money for the vehicle at the DMV and make sure all the paperwork goes through, and he said he would never buy a used car without check the Carfax first.
To see more local news stories, click here.