Fraud?


#1

Hi Guys. The problem: At the end of May 2008 I was on my way to get some work done on my '02 BMW 325i in Queens, NY. A sliding door appears, and instead of taking a left to the auto shop I take a right into a used car dealership that sells mainly BMW’s, Audi’s, Mercedes. So, knowing they have good prices on used cars mostly under 50k miles with factory warranties, my curiosity gets the best of me. Long story short, I end up in a '06 BMW 325xi with about 39k miles and a trade value I’m not so upside down on. After getting into a ridiculous finance deal with them (KG Suzuki aka Planet Auto Mall - finance guy gives two options with one at a lower apr 6.75%, which I reluctantly take because of this overblown warranty package = 2737.50, Maintenance package = 2356.65, and Extended Warranty = 2500.00. The guy says, Mr. Castro, you make 3 payments and we will refi at a lower apr and the warranty will drop away. Really? Of course neither of those has occurred) I leave the lot and go straight to Strauss Auto to buy one of those Bumper Badgers. Fast forward to Nov/Dec… I look at my back bumper (which I’ve had this Bumper Badger on every night with the exception of twice because I live in Manhattan and park on the street) and see the paint is cracking. I feel a little uneasy, as yes, it’s possible with the bumper derby that goes on in the city there could be a car tall enough to blemish the bumper, but wait… I’ve had this thing on 98% of the time and my last auto (I didn’t have a Bumper Badger) didn’t have cracked paint on the bumper, rather many scratches. My thought: this car may have been in an accident. Hmmm… No, it couldn’t be. The days go by and I notice something else… The front hood doesn’t look aligned properly. It looks as though there’s a slightly bigger gap on the passenger side. It is not an even seam across. Now, I’m fuming! Ok, I know it took me about 6 + months to figure this out, but wow! My worst fear was confirmed when I took the car into BMW of Manhattan on Friday to really do a diagnosis and confirm what I believe. My service advisor confirmed my worst fear by pointing out tiny bubbles in the paint on the passenger side of the front fender wall. She pointed out that factory paint does not deteriorate like that, etc. Ok, I’m screwed. I apologize for being so long winded but what do I do?! Do I have any legal recourse? Isn’t there a disclosure law that states every dealership must disclose prior accident information? Now, of course the “Auto Check” similar to Car Fax checked out with flying colors. Should I crash the vehicle into their lot and destroy all of their vehicles like an immature little kid? (Ha! Kidding, of course). Or, should I go in there and confront them? Or, should I seek legal counsel for advice in this matter? Or, am I stuck with my bad decision of not going to a certified BMW dealership? Any advice would be very helpful and appreciated… Whew! Thanks, John C. - NY, NY


#2

Your stuck. You should ALWAYS have used vehicles checked out by an independent mechanic you trust BEFORE you buy. Most all states consider used car purchases ‘AS-IS’, and there is very little or no recourse after the purchase. You already know the salesman was full of BS with the sales pitch. These guys misrepresent cars all the time. Carfax isn’t perfect, and chances are, this damage never went through insurance to repair, hence no paper trail for them to report. I’ve seen lots of cars with severe damage never reported on Carfax just for that reason. Again, always have a mechanic look over the used car before you buy.


#3

It is your car and payment and headache. Sadly education in life can be really expensive. I don’t think the problems you have are that huge just an overpriced car.

The bubbling paint is not a big deal. It will cost money to have it fixed properly but any body damage can be fixed and corrected.

Always pay to have a used car checked out by a third party mechanic(cost $100-$150 typically). If the seller refuses or balks it is a huge read flag.


#4

NY State is very good about going after dealers who do this kind of business. Check with the Attorney General First. I know of one dealer in Upstate NY that was shut down after doing something like this. I’d also look at getting a lawyer. You DO have legal recourse. But the tricky part is PROVING that the car was in a accident BEFORE you bought it. CarFax may help. Get legal advice.


#5

I think it is reasonable that you are informed as to the degree of damage the car suffered. How this can come about I am not sure. Maybe just a fender bender.


#6

According to this it’s your baby now.
http://www.oag.state.ny.us/bureaus/consumer_frauds/tips/usedcar_lemon_factsheet.html

And it’s possible the dealer did not even know it had been hit. Dealers often buy cars at auction as a “20 footer” (meaning it looks great from 20 feet away), it’s transorted back to the lot where the detail guy cleans it up, and then placed on th eline for sale.

A dealer I worked for one time took in trade an immaculate, 5k miles Chevrolet Malibu. He placed this car on the line and it sold quickly. When a problem developed with the dome light not working it was disovered when the carpet was rolled back to access some wiring that this car was actually 2 cars welded together. Someone did a whale of a job on it and it was undetectable without an extremely close inspection.

You’ve made a number of mistakes.
Never buy a car on a whim.
Never let them do the financing.
Don’t buy an extended warranty.
Don’t put much faith in Auto Check, Car Fax, etc. They’re often wrong.
ALways have a car inspected before you buy it.


#7

I don’t think this has anything to do with Lemon law. If the car was in a accident AND the dealer KNEW IT then the seller MUST disclose this information…PERIOD. If not it’s Fraud.


#8

Where in NY law does it state this? I could not find it.


#9

Try this…

http://definitions.uslegal.com/f/fraud/


#10

But that’s a generic page on fraud and NY law would be the final arbiter. I could see a fraud claim being valid IF the dealer unequivocally said the car had never been hit and IF the OP could prove this.
Maybe the dealer did not even know the car had been hit so how would one prove intent to cheat or defraud?

Since there is a 99%+ probability the dealer said no such thing I just don’t see the OP has a case at all; either on the actual damage or the time frame which has already lapsed under the NY law.
The NY OAG’s site does not even mention body damage for warranty purposes; only mechanical things and even that is limited in scope.

Under OK law a dealer CAN lie through the teeth (claim the car has a brand new engine for instance) but if the worn out engine scatters 2 days after purchase the buyer has no recourse at all if they signed the “AS IS” disclaimer. (and they WILL sign that disclaimer if they want the car.)


#11

Seinfeld. The show was true. Things really are different in NYC.


#12

I could see a fraud claim being valid IF the dealer unequivocally said the car had never been hit and IF the OP could prove this.

And I clearly stated that he has to PROVE it…which I agree is going to be very difficult.

I think you’ll find that Fraud differs little if any from State to State. A friend of mine who owns a Pontiac/GMC/Nissan dealership in upstate NY…bought the Nissan franchise rights to that area when the previous Nissan dealer got caught selling cars that were in accidents and NOT telling the buyers…AND selling cars with altered OD’s.


#13

The NY OAG’s website does not say anything about fender benders or any kind of body damage.

Selling a car that has body damage and the dealer not saying anything about it, even if the dealer knew it existed, does not constitute fraud in any way.
A used car is strictly caveat emptor and if the OP can see the damage now then they should have inspected the car closely and noticed it from the get-go.

In some cases (like the Malibu I mentioned) even a close inspection would not have revealed the damage.
So I sell one of my used guitars and the buyer complains 6 months later about a touched up area in the finish does this make me guilty of fraud if I did not point it out to them?


#14

The NY OAG’s website does not say anything about fender benders or any kind of body damage.

Doesn’t have to. Not every aspect of every law has to be spelled out. There are many many laws the come into play that are NOT spelled out. I’ll bet you won’t be able to find any law about the salesman shooting your wife either…But I’ll bet that’s a crime.