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Our law firm has decades of experience and proven results representing people defrauded by car dealers. We know the tricks and scams used by car dealers. We carefully screen our clients and devote the time, resources, and energy to maximize your recovery for upset, distress and financial harm caused by dealer fraud. Because of our focused attention, we can only accept a limited number of open cases. Please contact us for a Free Case Review.
Auto dealer fraud is rampant in the sale of used and new vehicles. New and used vehicle dealers have many methods to lie, cheat, or steal from you. All of these schemes have one purpose–to hide from you the truth about what you are buying. Many times it has something to do with concealing an unsavory history of the vehicle.
How Do I Know if the Dealer is Lying, Cheating, or Stealing?
Under Oklahoma law “fraud is a generic term embracing the multifarious means which human ingenuity can devise so one can get advantage over another by false suggestion or suppression of the truth.” Another way of saying this is that fraud is limited only by the creativity of the liar. Here are just a few examples of vehicle dealer fraud:
• selling a used car as a “new” car;
• selling a previously wrecked or damaged car without telling you;
• selling a “lemon” law buy-back without disclosure to you;
• selling you a vehicle with rebuilt or salvage title without upfront disclosure;
• odometer tampering or rollback;
• “power-booking”—informing the lender or finance company that the vehicle is loaded with expensive options it does not have in order to get you financed on an overpriced vehicle;
• theft of your trade-in vehicle or down payment, often using a “Conditional Delivery Agreement” or “Spot Delivery Agreement”;
• creating and submitting credit applications in the customer’s name with inflated or false income amounts and sources;
• jacking up the interest rate charged by a third party lender and pocketing the difference for more profit;
• “payment packing” by getting you to commit to a monthly payment and then packing in high-profit low-value add-ons such as GAP, ETCH, rust inhibitor;
• false advertising and bait-and-switch deception;
• failing to pay off your trade-in vehicle leaving you with two loans.;
• title skipping and title laundering;
• Yo-Yo delivery—dealer sells your trade in vehicle and then demands that you return the vehicle you purchased, leaving you stranded on foot.
Did I Buy a Lemon or an Undisclosed Previously Wrecked Vehicle?
Many buyers of used vehicles immediately assume the dealer sold them a “lemon” when they drive off the lot and shortly thereafter begin to have problems. Oklahoma, unfortunately, is prime territory for dealers to sell vehicles that were declared lemons in other states without disclosing that fact when they resell them to Oklahoma consumers. We call this lemon laundering.
More often consumers think their recently purchased used vehicle is a “lemon,” but it actually has been wrecked or has other hidden defects. If your vehicle has been wrecked or flooded, it may be unsafe to drive. Some insurance companies, auto salvage brokers, and auto wholesalers intentionally hide frame damage, salvage title history or other serious problems. These junk vehicles are cosmetically repaired and resold, usually out of state, through auto auctions. If your vehicle has been wrecked before, the car maker’s safety protections may fail in a collision. Your warranty may even be void.
Was My Vehicle Wrecked Before I Bought It?
Check your vehicle for telltale signs of wreck damage. Look in the glove box for any records or receipts for repair. Look for chalk marks on parts inside the engine compartment and underneath the vehicle. Look at bolts and nuts on the vehicle and see if it appears they have been worked on with a wrench; see if the paint on the bolts has been scraped or scuffed. Check the doorframes and inside the engine compartment for replacement wiring, taped wiring, warning or informational labels or paint overspray after the vehicle left the factory. Check rubber gaskets for paint overspray. Look for misaligned body parts in the doors, fenders, hood, and trunk. Look for paint imperfections or waves in the sheet metal. If you can, get a look underneath the vehicle for evidence of damage or removal of undercoating or damage underneath, including to the radiator, frame, axles, or other parts.
Was My Vehicle Flooded Before I Bought It?
Check for rust on the bolts used to secure your seats. Does your car have a terrible mildew smell? Does the interior of your car fog up on warm days?
Was My Vehicle Odometer Rolled Back Before I Bought It?
If you think the vehicle has more wear and tear than you would expect with its current mileage reading, you may be right. Many odometers have been turned back or replaced. Others may have been subjected to odometer document disclosure fraud. Check out the odometer itself. Have the screws in front of the glass been removed? Do the numbers line up? Are there any scratches on the numbered wheels? Is there any unusual wear of the carpet near the gas pedal or are the pedals themselves heavily worn or have been recently replaced? These may be signs of odometer tampering.
If you purchased a vehicle and you believe the auto dealer has engaged in any of these practices contact our office for a Free Case Review.
Investigating the History of Your Car
If your vehicle is less than five years old, ask for the manufacturer’s warranty history from another dealer (not the same one you purchased the vehicle from). Many dealers are willing to help a dissatisfied customer of a competitor. Be sure to get the written printout and look for mileage discrepancies, lemon history, or evidence that the warranty has been voided due to collision or water damage.
If the seller had problems with the vehicle while new, find out about the service history and ask if the dealer or manufacturer declared the vehicle a lemon or offered anything as compensation when taking back the vehicle either as a purchase or trade in. Check out www.carfax.com and www.autocheck.com.These websites contains ONLY a brief summary of information from most states. Most crooked car brokers, wholesalers, and dealers know how to avoid being detected by the Carfax and/or Autocheck database. These reports are useful, however, to identify each state where the vehicle has been previously registered. You will need the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to request these reports on your vehicle.
You should obtain the official vehicle title history from each state where the vehicle was registered. Privacy laws have severely restricted the access people have to this information, but our office will be able to help obtain title histories once a decision has been made by our law firm to offer representation.
How Our Office Can Help
If you purchased a vehicle and you believe the auto dealer has engaged in any of these practices contact our office for a Free Case Review. We have recovered millions of dollars in jury verdicts and settlements for clients who have been defrauded by car dealers. Often times these cases require a substantial amount of investigation and resources.
If you live in Oklahoma or New Mexico we can assist you directly. If you live in another state, we have co-counsel relationships in many states and may be able to offer you representation with locally licensed counsel or a referral.