KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Briana Roland was thrilled with the 2013 Nissan Altima she bought in November for $3,200 from a used car lot in Kansas City.
“When I got it I liked it,” said Roland, who has a young son and is expecting her second child any day. “It didn’t have any problems.”
That was until she tried to get the title. Although it’s illegal to sell a car without a title in Missouri, Roland said she was promised by the seller that the title was on its way from the auto auction. But after waiting more than a month, she called the Missouri Department of Revenue for help. What she learned in that phone call wasn’t good.
“They let me know there was a title loan on it,” Roland said. The previous owner had taken out a title loan the day after he bought the car for $4,000. When the car was sold to Roland a few months later, not a single payment on that title loan had been made.
It turned out Roland had been sold a car she couldn’t own, because Title Max Title Loan had already laid claim to it.
“All I know is I’m out of money and I’m stuck with a car I can’t really do too much with right now,” she said.
So who sold Roland this Nissan? A man named Greg Bolton who, according to multiple ads on Facebook, sells vehicles at Aspen Automotive on Blue Parkway in Kansas City.
Despite repeated attempts, FOX4 Problem Solvers couldn’t reach Bolton for comment, but Roland said Bolton told her he had no idea there was a title loan on the car. However, Roland later found all the paperwork for that loan stuck under a seat inside her car.
She demanded her money back. She had paid Bolton a $2,000 deposit for the car and owed him $1,200 more . Bolton promised he would repay her, messaging her on Facebook “I got u.”
Apparently not, because weeks later, Roland still hadn’t seen a dime. Plus she was afraid to even drive the car because she knew that Title Max was trying to repossess it. Unsure of what to do, Roland called attorney Tom Mendel for help.
“She can’t register or title the car and she has a title loan company coming after it for their interest,” said Mendel, adding that under Missouri law the whole deal was illegal.
However, when Roland complained to Kansas City Police she said she was told what happened to her was a civil matter, not a crime. Her lawyer disagreed and said the sale needs to be investigated.
“This stinks.. something should be done,” Mendel said.
Although Mendel was willing to help Roland try to get back her money by suing Aspen Automotive, he knew that could take months and that she needed help now. (While we were working on this story, Title Max repossessed the car. )Mendel encouraged Briana to call FOX4 Problem Solvers.
Problem Solvers paid a visit to the car lot in the middle of a work day, but found no one there. So, we tracked down the car lot’s registered owner, Denita Parker, at her home in Raymore. When we explained Roland’s predicament, she appeared shocked. She also insisted Bolton didn’t work for the car lot.
While we were standing there, she called her husband who manages the lot. He insisted the deal had taken place outside the gate, not on the premises of his car lot. Although Roland said that wasn’t true and that she had bought the car on the lot.
Aspen Automotive promised it would make sure Bolton returned every dollar Briana had paid him. A week later, Roland had 75% of her money back.
To make further amends, Aspen Automotive offered to sell Roland another car. She said no thanks.
Problem Solvers learned this week that the Missouri Department of Revenue is investigating Aspen Automotive and has interviewed both Roland and her attorney.