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Queens Lawmaker Wants To Crack Down On 'Cash For Cars' Signs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The "Cash for Cars" signs around the city capture your attention with the promise of big bucks.

Now, they're capturing the attention of lawmakers.

New York State Sen. Tony Avella says the illegal signs are an eyesore for the people of Queens and he wants to stop them from going up.

But who's putting them up in the first place? CBS2's Andrea Grymes investigated Thursday.

They pop up seemingly all over – on highways signs, overpasses, the elevated subway and even red light camera boxes, sometimes several in one area.

"People stop here along the Van Wyck Expressway. They use the light post, they use commercial property fences," said Dave Bachu, who works in Jamaica.

The signs are posted across the city, but Grymes saw many specifically in Queens.

The Department of Sanitation said it is illegal to posts signs or ads on poles, boxes, highways, elevated subways or similar public locations. The department said it does give out fines ranging from $75 to $300.

A spokesperson added that research has shown most of the companies use a prepaid phone, which makes it difficult to identify a responsible party. But they do also subpoena phone companies.

Avella said it's not enough.

"Acknowledging the problem and not fixing it isn't getting us anywhere. I'm willing to sit down with Sanitation and especially the phone companies," he said. "We have to end this, because this is out of control."

Grymes called five of the numbers on various signs, and someone answered at each number.

She got two hang-ups, but three others said they work for legitimate businesses that do offer money for cars and car parts. They would not consent to being recorded and would not give the name of the business or did not know it. Two said the sanitation department does fine them often for the signs, but that doesn't stop them.

Avella said you shouldn't take up the offers and the Better Business Bureau also recommends checking with them first to see if the business has any reviews or complains on file. That is, if you know the name.

The sanitation department said a special unit removes illegal signs unless it's too dangerous or difficult, then the Department of Transportation does it. You can call 311 to report an illegal sign.

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