AG Shapiro Stops Fake Online Car Sellers, Announces Webinar Series
HARRISBURG ― Auto dealers and salespeople who posed as private online sellers in Philadelphia and its suburbs are being held accountable for violating consumer protection laws and deceptive advertising, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today as part of National Consumer Protection Week.
The 12 legal actions, part of an advertising sweep in Philadelphia and southeast Pennsylvania, targeted dealers and salespeople who advertised vehicles for sale on Craigslist without telling potential buyers the automobiles were being sold by a dealer, as required by state law. Some vehicles were also advertised as “fully loaded,” which is also a violation of state law.
“Consumers have a right to know from whom they are purchasing their vehicles,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Buying a vehicle is a significant investment of time and money and consumers who turn to private sellers do it because they want to save a little of both. They deserve a smooth transition and to be treated fairly, which means knowing all of the material aspects of a deal, especially if they are buying from a dealer.”
The investigations conducted by Attorney General Shapiro’s Bureau of Consumer Protection targeted car dealers advertising in Craigslist in its “for sale by owner” section. The Office of Attorney General found these violations in more than 70 vehicle advertisements to Pennsylvania consumers.
The following businesses are subject to settlement agreements in the form of assurances of voluntary compliance, or AVC, and have agreed not to deceptively advertise their vehicles:
- Millevoi Bros. Auto Sales Inc. and Mark Millevoi (Philadelphia County)
- Brabus Auto Inc. and Dmytro Uliganets (Philadelphia County)
- ICars Inc. and Paulius Lazinskas (Philadelphia County)
- Kauska Inc. d/b/a 3 R’s Used Cars and Yehoda Solomon (Philadelphia County)
- VJ Quality Automotive and Vasyl Prokopchuk (Delaware County)
- Ada Phila LLC d/b/a Carmen Auto Group and Murat Gonul (Philadelphia County),
- John Banchi (Bucks County), and
- Speedy Inc. d/b/a Direct Auto Sales and Michael Brody (Montgomery County)
The Office also filed lawsuits against the following dealerships and salespeople:
- A & T Trucks Inc., Timofey Skylarsky and Aliaksandr Mirski (Philadelphia County)
- Gerald’s 1stclass Autosalon LLC and Gerald Clarkson Jr. (Bucks County)
- Fourth Street Auto Sales Group Inc. and Sydney Thomas (Philadelphia County)
- Don Devore (Philadelphia County)
As part of the Office of Attorney General’s ongoing mission to educate businesses about consumer protection issues and encourage the use of fair business practices, The Office, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Automotive Association, will conduct a two-part webinar series about the advertisement and sale of motor vehicles.
The first webinar will be held this Thursday, March 5, during National Consumer Protection Week. The second will be held March 18. Both events will be livestreamed to registered attendees.
“We applaud the motor vehicle dealers who are participating in these webinars. They are working to make sure their advertising practices are compliant with Pennsylvania law,” Shapiro said. “My Office is proud to educate not only consumers on matters of consumer protection, but also members of the business community.”
The most common consumer complaints received by the Bureau of Consumer Protection in 2019 involved motor vehicle issues.
The Office of Attorney General offers the following easy-to-follow used-car-buying tips for consumers:
Purchasing Vehicles: New and used car dealers are a natural place to start, but consumers should check on the dealer’s reputation and reliability before visiting.
Private owners usually sell vehicles in the newspaper or on the internet. Consumers who buy from a private owner should ask for maintenance and repair records, and they should check the vehicle’s title to make sure the person selling the car is the legal owner.
Complete a Thorough Check: Consumers cannot expect perfection in a used car, but they shouldn’t overlook serious defects. Make safety a priority. Inspect the car in daylight and good weather. Road test the car before buying. If a prospective buyer is not allowed to test drive the vehicle, don’t buy it.
Have a trusted mechanic thoroughly inspect the car before purchase. Check the body for rust or cracks. Tires, battery, doors, windows, lights, tailpipe, shock absorbers and fluids are all details that need a close look before you buy. Mechanical parts such as the headlights, heater and windshield wipers should be functioning properly. Also, check the interior seats and floor for any major wear and tear.
Read It Before You Sign It: As you finalize a deal on a used car, take the time to read and understand any written agreement. Ask questions. All blank spaces should be completed. Understand if there is a warranty included and what it covers. If you are required to make a deposit, ask if it is refundable. Make sure the deposit is also included in the contract.
Attorney General Shapiro encourages Pennsylvanians who believe they have been the victim of a scam or disreputable business practices regarding motor vehicles to contact the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 or visit www.attorneygeneral.gov to file a complaint.
The Office of Attorney General has implemented a text alert system which offers tips to help consumers avoid becoming a victim of a scam. Consumers can sign up by visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov/consumer-alerts/. There is no fee to sign up and participants may easily opt out after receiving a text.
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