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New York Attorney General Sues Chevrolet Dealership for Fraudulent Sales

December 9, 2008

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo's Office has filed suit against a Poughkeepsie Chevrolet dealership and its former owner, Raymond Wilkinson III, for deceiving customers by failing to inform them that cars purchased were previously used as rental vehicles and altering documents to cover up the fraud.

The Attorney General's Office obtained a court order Monday that protects any consumers who were defrauded by the dealership's sales of rental cars.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks restitution for consumers who were deceived into purchasing a car without knowing it was previously a rental vehicle, penalties and costs. Dutchess County Supreme Court Acting Justice Thomas J. Dolan today ordered Wilkinson to post a $500,000 bond to pay for any monetary award once the suit is resolved.

"This business failed to provide legally required notifications to its customers, thereby withholding important vehicle information that would influence the decision of whether or not to purchase a particular car," said Attorney General Cuomo. "Our lawsuit exposes the myth that this dealership was being truthful with consumers. As with any business that defrauds consumers, we will hold responsible those who are engaged in such deceptive tactics."

Attorney General Cuomo's Office conducted an investigation into Poughkeepsie Chevrolet that uncovered the dealership consistently failed to notify customers that the vehicles they purchased were previously used as rental vehicles – in violation of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law. Certain uses of vehicles, including use as a rental vehicle, can have a detrimental impact on the value of a car, leading buyers to either avoid the purchase or pay significantly less than what would otherwise be the fair market value.

The Attorney General's investigation, which included the examination of sales records for the previous year, also discovered the dealership engaged in other deceptive acts with regards to vehicle histories, including omitting the previous owner(s) on documents provided to purchasers and failing to give consumers copies of the extended warranties they purchased.

Several consumers contacted by the Office indicated that they would not have purchased the cars at the price they paid had they known they were previously used as rental vehicles.

Poughkeepsie Chevrolet attempted to cover up their actions by producing to the Attorney General’s Office copies of purchase agreements that had been altered after the transactions were completed.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Poughkeepsie Office Vincent Bradley. The investigation was assisted by Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Mark Hoops. Investigators Peter Schwindeller, Judith Koerber and Kathleen Coppersmith assisted in the investigation.

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