Attorney General Porrino and Division of Consumer Affairs Announce Complaint Against Newark Used Car Dealer, Allege Fraud Violations Including ‘Bait and Switch’
NEWARK – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division of Consumer Affairs have announced they are seeking restitution and civil penalties from a Newark used car dealer alleged to have violated the state Consumer Fraud Act and a number of state regulations concerning the sale of motor vehicles.
According to a Complaint filed in Superior Court, Essex County, on June 19, Cars on Route 21 of Newark, LLC (“Cars on Route 21”), located on McCarter Highway, allegedly engaged in a host of “unconscionable and deceptive business practices,” including “bait and switch” schemes where the business advertised vehicles at low prices and then refused to sell the cars at the advertised prices.
The Complaint was filed against the business and two individuals, David Pereira and Hiram Ortiz, both of whom are involved in the ownership and operation of the company.
“Buying a used car is among the most significant purchases many of us will ever make, and so the transaction needs to be transparent, not shady," said Attorney General Porrino. "We will continue to aggressively enforce our consumer protection laws against car dealers who obscure facts and attempt to trick the public, as we allege occurred here.”
“The Division will not tolerate blatant disregard for regulations by any used motor vehicle dealership,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Businesses must be held accountable for deceptive business practices, especially ‘bait and switch’ tactics, in order to assure consumers that they can purchase used vehicles without becoming the victims of fraud.”
The Complaint details 11 counts against Cars on Route 21, Pereira and Ortiz, alleging violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, the Regulations Governing Motor Vehicle Advertising Practices, the Regulations Governing Automotive Sales Practices, the Used Car Lemon Law and/or the Used Car Lemon Law Regulations.
Cars on Route 21 allegedly misrepresented the price of used motor vehicles, failed to include required statements about consumer costs, failed to include the actual odometer reading of motor vehicles in advertisements and failed to disclose prior damage to a vehicle that required substantial repair and body work.
In addition, on at least one occasion, Cars on Route 21 allegedly misrepresented the fees charged to a consumer and told a consumer that a vehicle would pass inspection when the car was so damaged that it could not pass.
The company also did not submit required documentation and the total sum of administrative fees collected from customers who purchased used vehicles between 2010 and 2016, according to the Complaint.
The complaint seeks to enjoin Cars on Route 21, Pereira and Ortiz from engaging in deceptive practices and calls for the business to restore any money or real or personal property acquired by unlawful and deceptive activity.
Investigator Jesse Maneiro of the Office of Consumer Protection conducted the investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Mark E. Critchley is representing the state in this matter.