ALBANY, N.Y. — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is at it again. This time, his office reached settlement with the previous owner of Saratoga Springs Nissan LLC. As part of the agreement, the former dealer will pay $101,986 in restitution to 119 consumers who were charged illegal fees and/or subjected to a variety of deceptive sales and advertising practices, according to an Attorney General press release.
Restitution amounts will range from $198 for illegal fees charged to more than $4,000 for unauthorized warranties and service contracts. The former dealer will also potentially have to provide up to $50,000 in additional restitution to other consumers who were subject to the illegal and deceptive practices and come forward within the next three months.
In May 2012, New York State Police raided and seized the dealership’s business records, which revealed that the dealership was charging as much as $5,000 for service contracts without consumer authorization. The investigation also revealed that the dealership persuaded customers to purchase and finance vehicles on terms they could not afford by primising to refinance their loans on more favorable terms after several months, according to the regulator.
The findings led to the arrest and conviction of the dealership’s finance manager, Mark Moore, for second-degree Scheme to Defraud and third-degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, according to the Attorney General's Office.
After the raid, the Attorney General’s Office received a flood of complaints from the dealership's former customers. Those complaints revealed a pattern of fraudulent, deceptive and illegal practices, including crediting consumers for less than the agreed-upon amount for vehicle trade-ins; charging consumers more for vehicles than promised; financing consumers’ purchase at a higher interest rate than promised; executing leases that included a lower yearly mileage limit than promised; and forging consumer signatures.
“A consumer purchasing a car should be able to expect that when they negotiate prices and terms for vehicles, the contracts will accurately reflect those agreements,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This settlement is a victory for New York consumers, and sends the message that car dealerships that take advantage of consumers by conning them into paying more for cars than they had agreed to will be held accountable. We will continue working to ensure that car dealerships throughout the state comply with the law.”
On Sept. 9, 2013, Saratoga Springs Nissan LLC was sold and is now operated by new owners under a different name.