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Man says online car retailer Carvana sold him stolen, damaged vehicle

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Posted at 6:36 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 20:36:14-05

DENVER — A Colorado man says Carvana, an online used car retailer, sold him a stolen car with serious damage that he only later discovered.

Maybe you saw Carvana's Superbowl Commercial Sunday? Dennis Atencio certainly did.

"It was a sad commercial for me," he said. "I don't want anyone to experience this."

The Denver resident wanted a hassle-free car buying experience.

"At first, I thought it was the most enjoyable car buying experience that I've had," said Atencio. But seven months after he bought it, a repo truck hauled it out of his driveway. "It's very embarrassing. Just the humiliation has been extremely painful."

Police reports show the car had been stolen in Memphis seven months before Atencio bought it from Carvana.

"This was a Hertz Rental Car that was at the Memphis Airport and had been stolen, then somehow got a title in California," said Matt Osborne, a consumer protection attorney. "So, there are multiple open titles on this car."

Atencio was able to get the car back but said he then found out the car was not only stolen but had also sustained prior damage.

"My theory of the case is they discovered this during the inspection, and they decided, 'Well, we'll just sell it anyways without disclosing it,'" said Osborne.

The vehicle condition report details wrinkled sheet metal, missing bolts, and a bad radiator. The vehicle is considered a "total loss" with previous crash damage that had been poorly repaired.

"You can't run it through an inspection and not notice these problems," said Norris Schleeter, the owner of SOS Inspections. "It was unsafe to drive, critical. I was shocked to see that, but it's not the first time I've seen damage like that on Carvana cars."

Schleeter said he has seen four to five Carvana cars with serious issues.

"I've noticed that Carvana has a habit of shipping you the worst car in their inventory, and if you refuse that in your 5-day window, then they'll send you a better one. I've seen that four or five times in a row," said Schleeter.

Carvana promises a 150-point inspection. The company did not immediately respond to questions about Atencio's allegations but has issued a motion to have the arbitration case thrown out.

We previously found Carvana has faced fines and license suspensions across the country and the Better Business Bureau has thousands of complaints.

Meanwhile, Carvana is building a car vending machine in Denver and expanding in the state of Colorado.

Colorado regulators have also had complaints but stated that if a point of sale is out of state, their investigators do not have jurisdiction.

"Understand the regulators are not going to regulate them," said Osborne. "So, you're in the wild, wild west if you buy a car from Carvana."

Atencio said he can't safely drive his Carvana car, so he bought an identical car from another dealer while he takes Carvana into arbitration next month. He said he can't sue the company because of the way their contracts are written.

"They offered to rewind the deal," said Atencio, who wants the company to pay off the car and for other costs he has incurred, as well as change its policies. "It was kind of a slap in the face after everything we've gone through and the additional expenses...Carvana needs to be stopped."

This story was originally published by Jaclyn Allen of KMGH in Denver, Colorado.