CORDOVA, TN (WMC) - A person's driveway is not supposed to be an auto dealership. But Cocus Taylor's driveway is.
Frustrated neighbors complained to the WMC Action News 5 Investigators about all the used cars Taylor has parked in the driveway and along the curb of the home he's renting at 8584 Timber Creek Drive in Cordova, Tennessee. Taylor has posted the vehicles on auto sales websites and painted his cell number in each of their rear windows. They each carry an Arkansas dealer tag or no tag at all.
Chris Basso, communications director of the vehicle history report company Carfax, said Taylor is a curbstoner -- somebody hired by an out-of-state auto dealer to dump cars in Tennessee with dangerous problems. "Things that can cost people a lot of money buying these cars, but also could be dangerous problems that put their families at risk," Basso said.
For example, two of the vehicles Taylor advertised for sale in his driveway -- a 2002 Nissan Maxima and a 2009 Nissan Altima -- have Carfax reports that revealed both have been in crashes where each was declared a "total loss." Each was patched up and thrown back together under a salvaged title.
"Curbstoners often deal with potentially dangerous vehicles that a licensed, reputable dealer won't touch," said Basso.
"It is deceptive," said Shelby County Building Code Enforcement Administrator Allen Medlock. He added that the practice of curbstoning is also a code violation. His inspectors have cited Taylor for violating county building codes, which prohibit Shelby County residents from selling vehicles not registered to them from their residences. "It creates traffic that really doesn't need to be there," Medlock said. "It upsets the neighbors and property values go down."
Taylor sped off in yet another vehicle with his cell number plastered in the rear window when we attempted to confront him about his curbstoning. We traced the Arkansas dealer tag on that car to Broadway Auto Center, 2501 E. Broadway Street in West Memphis, Arkansas. Records from the West Memphis City Clerk's Office revealed Ahamedi Ali is the owner. Dealer license records from the Arkansas State Police listed Cocus Taylor as one of Ali's salespeople.
"He's no longer a salesperson here. He's a friend of mine," Ali said.
Broadway Auto Center is properly licensed in Arkansas, but Kevin Walters, spokesperson for the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission, confirmed neither the dealership nor Ali is licensed to sell vehicles in Tennessee. "Those are (Taylor's) vehicles in his driveway," Ali said, despite registration records listing Broadway Auto Center as the registrant. "That's not true. You're telling lies. I don't want to make any more comments."
Taylor eventually responded with a text message: "Matter of fact I don't have to tell u my business sir no disrespect or nun I'm continuing my day u can continue yours good day"
Medlock confirmed code enforcement issued a court order demanding Taylor stop selling cars he does not own from his home. Medlock said so far, Taylor is abiding by the order.
HOW TO SPOT A CURBSTONER ON SITE OR ONLINE (SOURCES: CHRIS BASSO, CARFAX; BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU OF THE MID-SOUTH):
- Multiple auto listings, even multiple addresses, but ALWAYS THE SAME PHONE NUMBER
- Multiple vehicles for sale at same location, whether it be a house, apartment or parking lot
- Out-of-state tags on every vehicle for sale -- a sign of a curbstoner who may be fronting vehicles for a dealer not licensed to operate in your state
- Before you buy a used car from a private seller or dealer, always ask for a Carfax vehicle history report or order one. Insist that an ASE-certified mechanic of your choice inspect the car before closing any deal.
- Report a suspected curbstoner to your county or city building code department