Over $100,000 in restitution from auto dealership for illegal fees
On September 9, 2013, Saratoga Springs Nissan sold the dealership, which is now operated by new owners under a different name.
The settlement requires the former dealer to 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.
The investigation revealed that consumers were charged as much as $5,000 for warranties and service contracts without their authorization and induced to purchase and finance vehicles on terms they could not afford with false promises that the dealership would refinance their loans on more favorable terms after several months.
Restitution amounts range from $198 for illegal fees charged, to over $4,000 for unauthorized warranties and services contracts.
The settlement also requires the business to pay restitution to other consumers who come forward within the next three months and who were subjected to the deceptive and illegal practices uncovered by the investigation, with a cap of $50,000.
The settlement follows a May 2012 New York State Police raid and seizure of the dealer’s business records, which also resulted in the subsequent 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.
Following the raid, the Attorney General’s Office received a flood of complaints from customers of the former dealership, which revealed a pattern of fraudulent, deceptive and illegal practices.
In addition to the practices described above, the complaints revealed that the dealership had engaged in a variety of bait and switch tactics, 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; and executing leases that included a lower yearly mileage limit than promised.
A number of consumers also alleged that their signatures had been forged on contract documents. ■