The Justice Files: Man accused of rolling back odometers

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) –  He thought it was a good deal on a used vehicle.

It turned out this Salt Lake City man had been duped allegedly by Rusty Marks.
The 34-year-old Marks was charged with two counts of fraudulently altering an odometer and two counts of theft by deception,  all are third-degree felonies.

One of his victims is a man who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation from Marks and his family.

Last year, the man was looking on the internet for a used van and spotted one.
It was a 2004 Honda Odyssey with 104,496 miles. The selling price was $3,400. 

“I thought it was a good deal,” said the would-be buyer.  “I told him we’re interested in the van and if everything checks out we can pay cash.  And he said, ‘yeah sure.'”

He met the man who called himself “Sam” according to the buyer.  He looked over the van and was impressed.

“The van matched the mileage he was reporting it to be,” said the buyer.  “Everything was nice and clean.  The leather was clean.  Everything was good. It drove good.” 

After kicking the tires, he was ready to buy offering $3,000 cash.  It was a deal.  He asked the seller for identification which he didn’t have.  So he took a picture of “Sam” with his cellphone.  He said that didn’t go well with “Sam.”

“So I put out the phone and he says ‘no, no’ and I snapped a picture of him,” he said.  “I have the picture of him and he’s not smiling at all in the picture.”

But after bringing the van home, it was the buyer who wasn’t smiling.  His brother went on Carfax which showed it’s true mileage, over 200,000 miles. 

“I said, ‘oh man, we got duped,’ big time,”  the buyer said.

After failed negotiations with the seller, he reported it to the state’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division (MVED).

“He’s been on our radar before and he’s done similar cars like this,” said Allan Shinney, the director of MVED.  “But traditionally those vehicles are sold out of the state of Utah.”

MVED investigators had the buyer pick “Sam” from a photo lineup of known criminals.  It turned out this man who claimed to be “Sam” was actually Rusty Marks who is now facing charges for rolling back the odometer.  The charges filed against Marks also include another victim.  

Another couple claimed Marks sold them a pickup truck with 127,217 miles for $4,300.  But afterward, the couple had the vehicle inspected by their mechanic who discovered through Carfax that the actual mileage was 256,134 miles.

It was a lesson learned for the buyer of the van whose transmission went out shortly after he made the purchase.  It’s now sitting in his driveway.

“Definitely do a Carfax if you can,” he said.  “Otherwise get their ID, their driver’s license. As far as justice is concerned I’d like to get my money back and he can have the van.”

This isn’t the first time Marks has been accused of rolling back the odometer of a vehicle.  In 2015, Marks was placed on probation for tampering with an odometer.

Shinney said there may be other used car buyers who had questionable dealings with Marks.  But for the time being, they have no other active investigations.  A spokesman for MVED said if anyone feels they’ve been duped by Marks to contact their department at 801-297-2600.

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