Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has charged a southside Chicago auto dealer and a Kane County car salesman with violating a number of consumer fraud laws that have left dozens of Illinois consumers with unpaid car loan balances, vehicles without clear titles and incomplete warranties.
Because of the defendants alleged practices, consumers have been hounded by collectors, threatened with repossession of vehicles they no longer have because they traded them in, risked their credit ratings and have been forced to spend time trying to unravel the tangled web of half-truths and flat-out lies from the dealers to find out the true status of their financial transactions, she said.
Buying a car is hard enough without being taken for a wild ride of lies and deceit, Madigan said. Trading in your old vehicle is a common practice that in these cases took on nightmarish challenges for consumers.
Madigan today charged Williams Chevrolet/Geo Inc., 8650 S. Commercial Ave., in Chicago, with violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Most of the charges are associated with the dealerships failure to pay off unpaid loan balances on autos consumers trade in as partial payment for new vehicles. One amount left unpaid was more than $17,000.
According to the complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, the defendant:
- failed to pay off the unpaid loan balance on consumers trade in vehicles;
- falsely represented to consumers that the defendant would pay off the unpaid loan balances on consumers trade in-vehicles;
- submitted pay off checks to financial institutions for consumers trade-in vehicles that were mislabeled with an incorrect account number, causing the non-payoff of a consumers account; and
- misled consumers into believing that payoffs on their trade-in vehicles had been made by providing them with copies of payoff checks that defendants never sent to the payer or financial institution.
In the case against Williams, Madigan seeks a permanent injunction, restitution to all consumers victimized by the defendants actions, a civil penalty of $50,000 for each violation of the Consumer Fraud Act and an additional penalty of $50,000 for each act the court finds was committed with the intent to defraud.
In a filed in Kane County Circuit Court, Madigan charged Dominic Cece, president and owner of Prestige Motors, Inc, and his company with violating the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
According to the complaint, Cece:
- failed to pay off or pay off in a timely manner unpaid loan balances or outstanding lease payments on trade-ins, thus jeopardizing credit ratings of consumers and causing them to make payments on vehicles they no longer own;
- sold vehicles to Illinois consumers without title and with outstanding balances on loans or lease agreements;
- sold extended warranties but failed to forward consumers payment and registration to the warranty company; and
- sold vehicles on consignment but did not pay off liens on the consigned vehicles that, again, adversely affected consumers credit ratings.
The consumer fraud complaint filed in Kane County Circuit Court against Cece seeks a permanent injunction, restitution to consumers victimized by Ceces actions, a civil penalty of $50,000 for each violation of the Consumer Fraud Act and an additional penalty of $50,000 for each act the court finds was committed with the intent to defraud.