Many of our clients tell us about conduct by auto dealers that is quite clearly criminal. Many dealerships regularly engage in forgery, fraud, and outright theft of money.
State laws provide for serious criminal sanctions for this type of conduct, including jail time. Yet, when victims of crimes by auto dealerships report the illegal conduct to police, they are typically informed that it is a “civil matter” and that they should hire a lawyer.
One consumer contacted us this week and complained that he bought a car based upon an Internet ad from someone affiliated with a car dealership. They never received the title, and the dealer claims that the “salesman” was not authorized to sell the car. The consumer went to the police, who suggested that he negotiate with the dealership for the title.
This is outright fraud. Cars are a major investment, and most consumers require reliable transportation in order to get to work. When a dealership – or a crooked employee – takes their money and doesn’t deliver what is promised, then people lose their jobs. This conduct destroys families – and it is criminal.
Yes, private lawyers can assist with cases involving auto dealer fraud, but private cases take time. And, the only thing that private attorneys can do is obtain compensation for the victims. We can’t get the criminals out of the marketplace or stop them from hurting others.
When presented with evidence of criminal conduct, police and prosecutors should enforce their law rather than tell the victim that it is a “civil matter.”