Tuesday

Convicts at Car Dealers, Part 3


"Cheezit, guys, here come the cops!" It's not just a line from an old movie. It's probably what they said at an upstate New York Chevy dealer recently when the police showed up with search warrants. Not a good way to start the day.

If a car dealer’s employee is willing to steal from the company that pays him or her, what makes you think they won’t steal from you too?

A lot of car dealerships have a job they call Special Finance Manager. That's the person who sets up the financing for risky-credit customers. People with credit problems. In the mortgage broker business it's called subprime (and we all know what is happening in the mortgage market because of it --- it's a big part of the reason you see all those boarded up and empty houses around your town).

Subprime, special finance, is one of the most lucrative money-making games car dealers play. Huge amounts of profit can be very tempting for crooked car dealer employees too, as Whalen Chevrolet Oldsmobile found out when the dealer's special finance manager was arrested and charged with nine felonies related to his risky business.

Seems he was getting really creative with his creative financing, making fake documents that looked like tax returns, social security benefit letters, W-2 forms, and pay stubs. Then he'd use the fake documents to get financing approval for prospective car buyers and the customers didn't know what he was doing, according to a report in the Glens Falls Post-Star newspaper. It's not just a New York problem either. It's a game we've heard of before in Ohio and elsewhere, too.

Police are saying the employee submitted fake documents to finance companies like Capital One to get car buyers approved for credit they couldn't really get. The house of car[d]s was going just fine until the repo's started, apparently. At that point Capital One probably started wondering what was going on.

Then the cops raided the car dealership and seized car sales files for the last year to see if there were other fraudulent loans the guy created. According to the newspaper, the Police say the F & I sales manager involved also worked at a number of car dealerships in the Albany (NY) area over the years, and "told police that he learned the scheme at another dealership that he did not identify to investigators." Well, now, that makes sense. It also makes you wonder who the car dealer is that apparently is still doing it!

Amazingly, police suspect the finance manager of using the same scam while working at Nemer VW, an upstate New York Volkswagen car dealership, last year too. Not surprisingly, the owner of the Chevy dealership said he was unaware of the fraud and that he learned of his employee's past criminal history from the police.

"Obviously we would not condone anything like this," Whalen [the owner of the car dealership] said of the scheme, according to the newspaper. "It's unfortunate for everybody involved." Yeah, there goes this year's bonus Fiji vacation plan ...

It is amazing how many felons, crooks, criminals and thieves work in the car business. Why do you suppose that is? I suspect it's because they are always looking for the money-making angle to play and no one knows it better than a crook.

Sure there are some honest car dealers out there but some of them aren't. Like everything else, you have to be careful and watch out for the thievin’ on the retail end — that’s your end and it can cost you money!

If you’re the victim of car dealer fraud, call us. We go after car dealers (and manufacturers) every day. It’s what we do.