By Kurtis Ming


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento man bought a used car, but when he learned he was on the hook for a bounced check tied to the prior owner, it was time to call Kurtis.

He had registered his new car, so why was he left holding the bag?

Nathaniel Johnson bought the 2001 Chevy on Craigslist and used it to deliver newspapers. But after registering it at the DMV, he was sent a bill saying he owed $327 tied to a bounced check from the prior owner.

Even though Johnson didn’t write the check, the DMV said he has to pay it because he’s the new owner.

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“I don’t feel that I have to pay for somebody else’s mistake,” Johnson said. “I can’t afford that, cause I got my dog, my wife.”

Another man, Lee Murch, got stuck in a similar situation in 2015. Murch owed the DMV $297 because his car’s prior owner bounced a registration check.

“It’s not my bill I don’t understand why you guys don’t go after the gentleman who bounced the check,” Murch said.

CBS13 asked the DMV if owners really owe for a prior owner’s bounced checks.

DMV spokesperson Jessica Gonzalez said the new owners are not responsible for the check, but the previous registration.

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In 2015 the DMV said outstanding registration fees travel with the vehicle. Before buying any used car, you should demand proof all fees are paid.

After the Call Kurtis team got involved in both cases, the DMV agreed to waive the past owner’s bounced check fees.

Johnson is now able to keep the car he needs to deliver papers. If the fees weren’t waived and Johnson didn’t pay the fees, his tax refund could have been garnished.

When buying a used car, the safest thing to do is to meet the seller at the DMV and go to the counter together to make sure there are no outstanding balances.

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