Court Issues Temporary Restraints Against Paterson Used Car Dealer After State Division of Consumer Affairs Files Suit
NEWARK – A Paterson-based used car dealership has been ordered to disclose damage to and prior use of the vehicles it is offering for sale, after the Office of the Attorney General and State Division of Consumer Affairs filed suit against the dealership.
In its five-count Verified Complaint, the state alleges that Lencore Leasing, Inc., which does business as North Jersey Auto Mall and DCH Motors, and Lenny Belot, the owner/operator of the dealership, violated the Consumer Fraud Act, Used Car Lemon Law, and Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations in their advertisement, offering for sale and sale of used motor vehicles.
Last Friday, Superior Court Judge Mary Margaret McVeigh granted the state's request to stop the dealership from advertising and selling used vehicles without disclosing prior damage and/or prior use, pending a hearing on the state's request for preliminary injunctive and other relief. The Judge also granted the state's request for the appointment of a temporary monitor for the dealership.
"Used cars are not inexpensive. Consumers who are spending thousands of dollars for a used vehicle are legally entitled to be told if the vehicle has sustained prior damage or if it's been used as a fleet or rental vehicle,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.
The filed Verified Complaint identifies 51 used vehicles that defendants allegedly offered for sale which, by the state's calculation, had a cumulative $213,758 in undisclosed damage. The state also alleges that, in some instances, consumers were told that vehicles were "absolutely mint in and out” or were " in pristine condition” when such was not the case.
The Verified Complaint also alleges that the defendants' online advertisements failed to include the required disclosures of prior use and prior damage and that defendants violated the Used Car Lemon Law by allegedly failing to disclose existing mechanical defects in used motor vehicles prior to sale. The Defendants also allegedly misrepresented that vehicles were covered by a warranty when such was not the case.
The Verified Complaint also alleges, among other things, that the defendants failed to respond to consumer requests for refunds or reimbursements for repairs that consumers paid for; failed to include promised equipment such as navigation systems and floor mats in the purchased vehicles; and failed to disclose that the sales price did not include licensing and registration fees, and taxes.
"A nice wax job can make any vehicle look good. But below the surface, we allege that real and potentially dangerous problems existed for Lencore's consumers,” said Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. "We believe some purchasers might have reconsidered their decision to buy if they had known the vehicle had mechanical defects or had been used in fleet or rental service.”
To date, the Division of Consumer Affairs has received 14 consumer complaints as to defendants, three of which were forwarded from the Passaic County consumer affairs office and one of which was obtained from the Better Business Bureau. The Division would like to thank the Passaic County consumer affairs office for its assistance with this investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Koziar in the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section of the Division of Law is representing the state in this action. Investigator Murat Botas in the Commercial Fraud Unit in the Division of Consumer Affair’s Office of Consumer Protection, conducted the investigation.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other
form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint
with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey)
or 973-504- 6200.
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