NEW YORK, NY – Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Peter A. Hatch announced cases against two used car dealership companies—Kings Autoshow and JF Motors, which operate a total of five dealerships in Brooklyn and Queens—for engaging in deceptive and unlawful trade practices that preyed on vulnerable New Yorkers, as well as consumers from across the tristate area. DCWP’s cases, which will be heard at the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), allege thousands of violations, including violations of the City’s new laws and rules designed to prevent predatory conduct by the industry.
In its case against Kings Autoshow, which operates two Brooklyn Mitsubishi locations, DCWP is charging the company with more than more than 7,000 violations and seeking more than $50,000 in restitution for 34 consumers, civil penalties, and revocation of both of its used car dealership licenses. The case against JF Motors includes Automania, Luxury Automotive Club, and the now-closed World Auto, all of which are in Queens. DCWP is charging the JF Motors family of dealerships with more than 9,000 violations and seeking more than $100,000 in restitution for nine consumers, civil penalties, and revocation of its two remaining licenses. DCWP is also seeking to hold the respective owners, and Brooklyn Mitsubishi’s general manager, personally liable for the violations.
“These dealerships repeatedly victimized their customers and violated consumer protection laws,” said DCWP Commissioner Peter A. Hatch. “We are taking action to a put a stop to their exploitative practices, obtain restitution for the consumers they harmed, and to revoke their licenses so they cannot do this again.”
“I was looking for a good experience in buying my very first car. Instead, I was taken advantage of and cheated out of my hard-earned money,” said Brooklyn Mitsubishi customer Jefferey Williams. “No one should ever have to go through this with any used car dealership, especially if it’s their first time.”
“Brooklyn Mitsubishi made it clear that they were not on my side the moment I walked through their doors. There was no explanation of the car-buying process and I didn’t even receive my paperwork on the same day,” said Brooklyn Mitsubishi customer Karinie Olivero. “I felt used, robbed, betrayed and unhappy with how they treated me. It was very troubling as a consumer and as a hard-working New Yorker to go through this kind of treatment.”
“The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association does not condone illegal or unethical practices. We continually strive to strengthen the integrity of our industry-leading certified pre-owned (CPO) program through enhanced technology and training,” said National Independent Automobile Dealers Association CEO Bob Voltmann. “The all-new NIADA CPO 3.0 program will guard against fraudulent and deceptive practices through a digital inspection process and will require participating dealers to complete training and acknowledge NIADA’s Code of Ethics.”
The dealerships’ unlawful conduct includes:
- Using False Advertising to Lure Consumers and Charging More Than Advertised: Both companies used deceptive advertising to lure customers to their dealerships and then illegally sold cars at prices well above the advertised prices. For example, one consumer saw a 2017 Jeep 4W Grand Cherokee advertised by Brooklyn Mitsubishi on CarGurus.com for $27,994. She visited the dealership and, after taking her down payment, Brooklyn Mitsubishi rushed her through signing all the paperwork and ultimately charged her $36,585 for the automobile, or $8,500 above the advertised price.Both Brooklyn Mitsubishi dealerships persistently advertised “expired” prices with false claims stating, “the price you see is the price you pay” and “no dealer fees” that weren’t honored when consumers got to the dealership. They also falsely advertised accessories, warranties, and add-on products that did not come with the vehicle. JF Motors’ dealerships frequently marketed their cars as “Certified Pre-owned” by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) even though JF Motors did not conduct the required 125-point inspection, give buyers the promised 10-year/100,000 warranty, or provide the vehicle history report for each vehicle. JF Motors inflated prices by adding fake fees, even charging consumers a fee for the fake NIADA certification.
- Misleading Consumers about Financing: The Brooklyn Mitsubishi dealerships had a practice of luring consumers with lower credit scores by promising “guaranteed approval” for financing and pre-approval for financing from a fake finance company.
- Conducting Other Illegal Activity: The Brooklyn Mitsubishi dealerships misled consumers about warranties, executed illegal contracts, failed to maintain required records, failed to respond to DCWP’s subpoenas, and submitted false license applications to DCWP. The JF Motors dealerships used illegal contracts, required consumers to buy service contracts that either did not exist or had less coverage than promised, overcharged out-of-state buyers for title and registration fees, and failed to provide contracts and other documents to consumers in Spanish even though the deal was negotiated in Spanish.