Maryland Auto Dealer Fraud Lawyer’s 5 True Client Stories
As an experienced Maryland consumer fraud attorney, I see all types of frauds perpetrated on unsuspecting car buyers in Maryland . The following cases are true stories of some of the people that Whitney, LLP has represented in 2016 and 2017 who were deceived and cheated when buying a car.
These cases range from a used car dealer in Prince George’s County buying a frame damaged car at an auction and selling it to a young woman without disclosing the frame damage, to a new car dealership in Baltimore County adding over $7,000 to the price of a new car for “dealer installed options”, when no extra options were ever installed.
These cases all have in common a salesman, finance manager or general manager who lies to an unsuspecting consumer, and the consumer is deceived and cheated as the result. In some cases, when a car is sold with damage, or is advertised as having a feature that is doesn’t, the customer and their family are placed in danger by the car dealer’s deception.
Auto Fraud Attorneys Representing Maryland Consumers
Used Car Dealer Fraud in Temple Hills, MD – Prince George’s County
Our client, a young woman in her 20’s, bought a 2012 Honda Civic on October 22, 2015 from a used car dealer in Prince George’s County. The vehicle looked good, and before she bought, she asked the salesman if it had ever been in an accident. He said no. After she purchased the vehicle, it began to have problems, so she took it to a mechanic, who discovered serious structural damage including frame damage that affected the safety of the vehicle, including air bag function.
We advised out client to report the dealership to Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration, who investigated and concluded that the used car dealer was aware of the damage at the time they sold the vehicle. During the course of our investigation, we were able to obtain the auto auction receipt, which specifically stated that the vehicle had frame damage when they purchased it on October 2, 2015 at auction. A lawsuit was filed after they refused to settle, and shortly after the lawsuit was filed a settlement was reached. We were able to negotiate the return of the vehicle to the dealer, payment of our attorney’s fees, and compensation to our client for the fraud, which was more money than she had paid for the car.
There was no question that this used car dealer knew exactly what they were doing when they bought a damaged car at an auto auction and tricked an unsuspecting young buyer into paying full price. It was despicable behavior that placed her at risk and the only motive was the used car dealer’s greed to make a few more dollars.
Large, Well-known Car Dealership in the Baltimore Area
Earlier this year, our client purchased a used car from large dealership in the Baltimore area. The VIN on the sales contract and other related paperwork was the wrong VIN, and when our client got home and realized it, she went back to the dealership to talk to the manager. When she sat down with them, they told her that she had already signed another set of paperwork with the correct VIN – although she never did!! The manager gave her a copy of all of the paperwork with the “right” VIN on it, and every one of the eight documents had her forged name on it. To make matters even worse, they gave her a copy of a credit application on which they had forged her signature and put down her occupation as an office manager making $75,000 a year when in reality she had a different job making $40,000 per year.
After contacting the finance company and getting a copy of the paperwork that had been submitted by the dealership, it was evident that the dealership had not only forged our client’s signature, but also potentially committed bank fraud by submitting the forged credit application and loan documents.
After sending a letter of representation to the dealership, their lawyer contacted us, and within a month we worked out a settlement that paid a significant sum of money to our client and paid our attorney’s fees.
Large, Well-known Car Dealership in Baltimore County
Our client is a 50 year old single woman who purchased a new vehicle earlier in 2017. When she came to my office, she showed me the Buyer’s Order for the vehicle that showed a charge of $7,600 as a “Dealer Installed Option” on the $22,000 new car she bought. The only problem is that there is no dealer installed options on the car. This is what is called “fraud,” and was done with the intent of cheating our trusting client out of as much money as possible due to her trusting nature and reliance on the two dealership employees to give a truthful answer when she asked why they were charging her an extra $7,600.
This is some of the most blatant fraud I have ever seen, and gives a good idea of what certain dealerships think they can get away with doing to consumers. I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time they have done this. This case is currently in pre-litigation settlement negotiations with the dealership’s attorney.
Anne Arundel County Used Car Dealer
Our client is a 24 year old married man with an infant child. In December of 2016, he went to the used car dealer’s lot to look for a vehicle with AWD or 4WD. He repeatedly explained to both the salesman and the sales manager that he wanted a vehicle specifically with AWD or 4WD capability so that he could drive himself and his wife, who is a nurse, to work, and transport their infant child safely, in severe weather conditions such as torrential rain or snow. He was shown a 2004 Ford Explorer and was assured by both the salesman and the sales manager that the vehicle had AWD and would fit his specific needs for driving safely in severe weather. He was also told that an oil change had just been performed on the vehicle.
Shortly after purchasing the vehicle, he took it to a mechanic and discovered that the vehicle did not have a front driveshaft. A front driveshaft is required for a vehicle with AWD to be able to operate with AWD engaged. Without a properly operating front driveshaft, the front wheels do not engage independently from the rear wheels and do not provide the additional traction and safety that a functioning AWD vehicle provides to its driver and passengers when AWD is engaged. What I also learned is that the front driveshaft on the vehicle is located adjacent to the oil pan. Any competent mechanic who changed the oil on the vehicle prior to its sale to our client would have immediately seen that the front driveshaft had been removed.
Our client immediately notified the used car dealer about the missing front driveshaft, and denied all knowledge of the problem. They refused to take the car back, and instead tried to fix it by installing a completely rusted out, junkyard driveshaft, which our client refused. When a new driveshaft was installed, it immediately became apparent that the vehicle was inoperable with the driveshaft installed. The vehicle locked up and would not operate correctly because the transfer case and differential were damaged.
Because the used car dealer refused to let our client return the useless vehicle, we filed a lawsuit against them alleging violation of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act, Fraudulent Concealment, Fraud and violating provisions of the Code of Maryland’s Regulations.
By selling our client the vehicle that did not have AWD capability when it was advertised as having it, the used car dealer placed our client and his family in danger. Had our client not discovered that the vehicle’s front driveshaft had been removed and that it did not have AWD capability, he would have relied on having AWD capability in severe weather situations and unknowingly placed himself and his family at risk.
New Car Dealership in Waldorf, MD – Prince George’s County
Imagine buying a new, $50,000 SUV and bringing it home. At the dealership, you had seen that is had 440 miles on it, and before buying asked the salesman and general manager where the miles came from. They tell you that the dealership owner was driving it around, and it had never been owned by anyone else. You believe them, and buy it. Then, as you are activating the OnStar and Sirius Radio, you find out that someone else already activated those services. Then, you find out from the Sirus Radio representative the name of the person who activated.
After calling the person who activated the Sirius Radio, you learn that the vehicle was previously sold, that the prior owner put 400 miles on it, and returned it after the general manager refused to honor the terms of the financing, and tried to make the prior owner sign a different contract.
Obviously, a new car that has never been sold to anyone is worth more than a car that has already been sold, used and returned. The difference in valuation between a new and a used car is thousands of dollars. Everyone knows that once a new car leaves the lot with an owner, it automatically loses 15%-20% of value just from becoming a used car. In a situation such as this one, where the dealership lied about the car being new, that is called fraud.
This case is currently in the pre-litigation stage and no lawsuit has been filed yet.
How to Find an Auto Fraud Consumer Attorney
These five cases discussed above provide a flavor for the types of schemes that consumers have to deal with when they go to purchase a car. It is a shameful and shortsighted thing to do to a person buying a car, but that does not stop the car dealers from doing it.
If something like this has happened to you, you will likely need to hire an experienced auto fraud attorney to represent you and help you get compensation from the dealer. Whitney, LLP’ auto fraud attorneys can help car buyers who need to find an auto fraud or auto damage deception lawyer, and we are always happy to discuss someone’s potential case against a car dealer. We provide free consultations, and our attorney’s fees are paid out of compensation we recover for our clients. Call us at 410 583 8000, or use our Quick Contact form.