Attorney General Cuomo Obtains Court Order Against Dealmaker Auto For Repeated Fraud

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (March 9, 2009) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his office has obtained a court order requiring DealMaker Auto Group to pay $44,000 in penalties and costs for repeating fraudulent practices including not paying off loans on vehicles traded-in by customers.

By next week, DealMaker must also produce an independent examiner approved by the Attorney General’s Office to oversee the company’s compliance with the court order.

“This company has repeatedly ripped off consumers through its fraudulent business practices,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This order puts the brakes on illegal practices and sends a message to all businesses that they will be held accountable to their customers.”

The order on consent was signed by Justice Joseph McGuire in State Supreme Court of Jefferson County.

A year ago, the Attorney General’s Office reached an agreement with DealMaker to pay off more than $2 million in loans on trade-in vehicles and repair adverse impacts on customers’ credit reports. Since then, however, DealMaker repeated the deceptive practices, creating new victims and prompting the Attorney General’s Office to file a lawsuit in January.

DealMaker Auto Group, LLC, of Main Ave. in Watertown sells new and used cars in Watertown, Syracuse, Theresa, Ogdensburg and Potsdam. The company is owned by P.J. Simao of Alexandria Bay and Mark Picarazzi of Watertown. The Attorney General’s initial investigation determined that DealMaker systematically promised and then failed to pay off consumers’ outstanding loan balances on approximately 150 traded-in vehicles. Many customers who traded in these vehicles received collection notices from their lenders, which may have adversely affected their credit ratings. In some instances, the loans remained unpaid by DealMaker for more than two months after the vehicle was traded in by the consumer. Following that investigation, DealMaker entered into a legally binding agreement to pay off these loans, take necessary action to repair affected customers’ credit scores and hire an independent examiner to oversee the company’s handling of the payoffs.

When the Attorney General’s Office received additional complaints regarding DealMaker’s failure to pay off traded-in vehicles and disregarded the terms of the original agreement, Cuomo’s office sued the company. The resulting court order signed today requires full compliance with the original agreement and penalties. The order also requires DealMaker to continue to pay off outstanding liens and repair the credit of the additional complainants.

 Consumers who did business with DealMaker and are concerned that their credit may be affected are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Watertown Regional Office at 315-785-2444.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General-In Charge of the Watertown Regional Office Deanna R. Nelson, Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Carol Lively and Investigator Chad Shelmidine, both of the Watertown Regional Office.