Attorney General Cuomo Obtains Court Order Against Syracuse Used Car Dealer For Deceptive Practices, Overcharging, Failure To Honor Warranties

Albany, NY (May 1, 2007) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that a court order has been obtained against a Central New York used car and truck dealer, ordering restitution and penalties and barring it from continuing a series of misleading sales tactics and financing practices.

Syracuse-based Azzam Eagle Auto, Inc. and its owner, Marwan H. Azzam, individually and d/b/a Azzam Eagle Fleet Auto Sales and Azzam Eagle Auto Sales, has paid $8,771.33 in restitution to 20 consumers who were either overcharged for their vehicles or registration and title fees, were charged for services that were not requested, or were not informed of interest and finance fees included in their loans. The company will also pay more than $6,000 to the state in civil penalties and costs, as ordered by State Supreme Court Justice James P. Murphy. As indicated in the court order to determine whether additional restitution should be awarded, individuals who purchased vehicles from Azzam Eagle Auto in Syracuse and believe they were victims of deceptive sales practices and/or financing agreements should contact Attorney General Cuomo’s Syracuse office at 315-448-4848 before August 29, 2007.

An investigation by the Attorney General’s office began in late November 2006 and revealed that Azzam Eagle Auto, located at 201 South Geddes St. in Syracuse, violated the disclosure requirements set forth in both the Federal Truth-in-Lending Act and the New York State Motor Vehicle Retail Installment Sales Act. The dealer also was not properly licensed to finance loans through the New York State Banking Department.

The dealership misrepresented to consumers that its “in-house” vehicle loans were interest-free and without finance charges when the dealership in fact concealed significant finance charges on consumers’ loan agreements. The dealership including fake fees for “dealer installed equipment” on sale and loan agreements; added unexplained “document fees” or “other charges” that did not relate to any specific or legitimate expense; inflated vehicle sale prices; and/or charged consumers inflated amounts for New York State registration fees.

Azzam Eagle Auto also failed to make required disclosures concerning DMV registration and title processing fees, and then failed to provide refunds for overpayments that were made. Additionally, though Azzam Eagle Auto purported to provide a limited 30-day/1,000 mile warranty, consumers complained repairs were not addressed in time so that warranties would expire. The dealership also did not provide proper notice of repossession to consumers, nor their rights as consumers to avoid repossession by paying delinquent amounts, late charges and reasonable costs of repossession.

The court order dictates that Azzam Eagle Auto will no longer be permitted to provide any in-house financing. If the dealership does arrange financing, it must do so through a licensed financier. Azzam must also make all disclosures required by law, honor warranties and provide proper notice to individuals whose vehicle it expects to repossess.

“This dealership and its owner repeatedly took customers on a proverbial ride,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “All car dealerships must abide by the law and they must make absolutely clear any fees in purchase agreements and warranties. Deceiving consumers with hidden fees and shady business practices will not be tolerated by my office.”

To learn about best practices when looking for a used automobile, consumers should visit the Attorney General’s website: www.ag.ny.gov.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Judith Malkin of the Syracuse Regional Office. Andrea Burnham, Investigator in the Syracuse Regional Office and Carol Lively, Sr. Consumer Frauds Representative in the Watertown Regional Office assisted in the investigation.

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