JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida regulators say the former owners of Riverside Chevrolet of Jacksonville, Fla., have agreed to pay $1.47 million to settle charges of unfair and deceptive acts and practices and failing to pay taxes.
The investigation was spurred by a local news media report and led by Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation and Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The settlement was announced by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, coinciding with her office’s launch of a weeklong, automotive-focused consumer awareness campaign.
“We are shifting into high gear to protect Florida drivers from all types of automotive fraud,” Moody said. “Today, we announced more than a million dollars in restitution for Florida drivers who were sold cars with outstanding liens, and all week long we will be reaching out directly to drivers via social media to let them know how to avoid automotive fraud and what to do if they fall victim to deceptive practices.”
The settlement includes $1.2 million in unpaid liens on vehicles traded in by customers, $235,000 in civil penalties, and $15,000 in state attorneys’ fees.
The dealership was owned by the Central Florida-based Ferguson family for only two years; it was sold to Beaver Automotive Group in June 2018 and now houses Beaver Toyota. As part of the agreement, Riverside Chevrolet’s dealer of record, Andrew Ferguson, is permanently barred from owning or managing a dealership in Florida.
“Through the licensing and regulation of dealerships in Florida, the department is committed to ensuring when a customer walks into a dealership to buy a car, they are met with a fair, transparent, and honest car buying experience,” said FDHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “I appreciate Attorney General Moody for championing the rights of consumers and holding those who engage in deceptive practices accountable.”