East Valley man scammed in sneaky car transaction

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Kim Hegg is the proud new owner of a 2008 Dodge Nitro. It's a vehicle he says he liked as soon as he test-drove it. 

"Oh yeah, it drives wonderful," Hegg said. "I took it on the freeway and it drives nice. The air conditioner blows cold and there are no major defects that I have found."

The seller told him upfront that the Dodge Nitro had a Salvage Title, which was why he was asking only $7,400. That's several thousand dollars under normal retail price. A salvage branded title means that sometime in the past, the vehicle had been wrecked significantly.

Hegg said the seller told him if he simply took the vehicle and got it checked out at an MVD inspection center, the State of Arizona would find it was road worthy and he would be able to register it.

So, Hegg handed over $7,400 in cash and headed for that inspection center where his Dodge Nitro passed the state inspection with flying colors.

However, he soon hit a snag while at the inspection.

"Everything was fine until we went around the building to license it and that's when the problem arose," according to Hegg.

The problem Hegg is talking about is that the Dodge Nitro he just spent more than 7 grand on was unable to be registered because records indicated two years ago,the state of Florida issued it a Certificate of Destruction.

That meant the Dodge Nitro should have been put into a machine and crushed into a small cube so it could never be driven again.

"A certificate of destruction pretty much means it should have been crushed ito a 4-foot by 4-foot cube and it should not be in existance, but obviously it is," Hegg said.

3 On Your Side got involved and although I was able to track down the seller of the Dodge Nitro, I couldn't talk to him.

That's because he's currently serving time in an Ohio prison after pleading guilty to a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme. So, selling wrecked vehicles may not be all that surprising.

But, how did the seller obtain a vehicle that should have been crushed? And more importantly, how in the world did he get an Arizona Title branded Salvage? It's a document that clearly shouldn't have been issued.

Harold Sanders is the spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation and said an investigation has now been launched.

"The information you have provided us led us to believe that something needs to be looked at during this process," Sanders told  3 On Your Side.

But while Arizona looks into the matter, Hegg said the investigation does him no good. He's out $7,400 in cash and he owns a vehicle he's not even allowed to register or drive.

"Today, it is nothing more than a glorified driveway ornament," Hegg said. "I legally can't put it on the road and I won't."

Hegg says he's considering selling the vehicle for parts in an effort to get his money back. He said he's also considering selling it to a rancher or farmer who can drive the vehicle on private property without having to register it.

3 On Your Side will stay on top of this story and I intend on airing an update when the State of Arizona concludes its investigation into how this all happened.