You Think Selling Cars is Hard?

December 2010, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Thomas B. Hudson, Esq. - Also by this author

Jail is Harder

A recent press release from New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced that his office has secured and is now distributing more than $100,000 to consumers who were defrauded by a New York used car dealership. The allegations below are from the press release.

The money came from a lawsuit won by Cuomo’s office against the owners and employees of Daniels Automotive Group, also known as Howard-Oldsmobile-Cadillac-Pontiac-GMC Truck, Inc., that defrauded 38 consumers throughout the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions.

“This dealership engaged in a pattern of deception and fraud that cost unsuspecting consumers thousands of dollars,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “These practices have been put to a stop, and we have secured restitution for those the dealership ripped off.”

According to the AG’s office, from August to December 2008, Daniels Automotive used multiple fraudulent schemes when selling used vehicles. The Attorney General’s investigation found that the owner and some staff members were involved in scams regarding loan and credit applications, sales of fictitious warranties, failure to pay off traded-in vehicles and even identity theft.

According to the AG’s suit, the dealership engaged in various fraudulent practices, including:

• Obtaining consumers’ signatures on blank or partly blank documents and then inserting figures and terms inconsistent with the numbers agreed upon during sales negotiations

• Charging consumers for extended warranty repair service contracts without the customers’ knowledge or consent

• Misrepresenting to customers that they were required to purchase an extended warranty or they wouldn’t be approved by a lending institution

• Falsely promising to refinance purchased vehicles at a lower interest rate after the consumer made several monthly payments

• Refusing to refund deposits to consumers who did not wish to buy a car or who had been turned down for financing

• Submitting purchase and loan documents to financial institutions and other state agencies with forged signatures

• Pocketing consumer deposits and advance payments for purchases of automobiles

• Submitting forged credit applications with falsified and inflated financial and employment information in order to induce lending institutions to approve inflated automobile prices and loans

• Forging credit applications from consumers with fake employment and inflated salary amounts, then changing the consumer’s employer’s telephone number to the Daniels employee’s number, who would then impersonate fictitious employers and fraudulently verify employment

• Reneging on the acceptance of trade-in vehicles that were part of a vehicle purchase deal.

These aren’t the, “Oh, shucks, somebody forgot to train me not to do that” sorts of violations that we frequently see. It’s hard to understand how those participating in these practices could think that they were not violating the law. Even a skunk would have a “smell test” problem with these shenanigans.

If any of these activities are going on in your dealership, it’s time to find a new place to work. When we’ve seen allegations like these in other states, we’ve often seen criminal and civil charges brought against the dealership and its employees. That’s a party you want to miss.

Selling cars is hard. Jail is harder.

Vol. 7, Issue 10

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