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TORONTO, Ontario — The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council has hit Empire Auto Sales — an unregistered dealership — and its three owners (Dinesh Gathani, Alpa Gathani and Ankit Gathani) with a $7,000 fine for not disclosing the history of salvage vehicles it sold to unsuspecting consumers.

OMVIC conducted an investigation and filed charges under the Consumer Protection Act. The council found that Empire had sold vehicles that were insurance write-offs, branded salvage units.

The charges allege that Empire didn't properly disclose these vehicles' histories, only telling consumers that cars had "small dents" without letting them know they had actually seen major collision damage.

"When purchasing a large ticket item like a vehicle, it's important to know what you're buying and who you are buying it from," noted OMVIC spokesperson Brenda McIntyre.

"Ensure your dealer is Ontario-registered so you are protected by the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act," she added. "Under the Act dealers are obliged by law to disclose to potential buyers and material fact about a vehicle's history that may affect the buyer's decision. In certain circumstances, consumers are even entitled to contract cancellation and return of their money by their dealer."

Furthermore, OMVIC warned shoppers that buying vehicles from private individuals or unregistered deals excludes them from the act's protection. This includes access to a consumer protection fund that is supported by dealers and provides shoppers with a "safety net" if they have any problems with their vehicle purchases or leases.

OMVIC asks consumers to visit www.buywithconfidence.ca or call (800) 943-6002 to verify the registration of a dealer or salesperson.