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Post date: June 21 2016

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement Securing Over $100k In Restitution For Customers Of Auto Dealership That Used Deceptive Practices

Former Dealer Will Pay Over $100K In Restitution To Consumers Charged Illegal Fees, Subjected To Deceptive Sales Practices 

Schneiderman: We Will Fully Prosecute Car Dealerships That Con And Deceive Customers

ALBANY — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with Saratoga Springs Nissan, LLC, which operated a dealership in Malta under the name Saratoga Springs Nissan from May 2010 to September 2013.  On September 9, 2013, Saratoga Springs Nissan, LLC, sold the dealership, which is now operated by new owners under a different name. The settlement requires the former dealer to pay $101,986 in restitution to 119 consumers who were charged illegal fees and/or subjected to a variety of deceptive sales and advertising practices. 

The investigation revealed that consumers were charged as much as $5,000 for warranties and service contracts without their authorization and induced to purchase and finance vehicles on terms they could not afford with false promises that the dealership would refinance their loans on more favorable terms after several months.  Restitution amounts range from $198 for illegal fees charged, to over $4,000 for unauthorized warranties and services contracts.  The settlement also requires the business to pay restitution to other consumers who come forward within the next three months and who were subjected to the deceptive and illegal practices uncovered by the investigation, with a cap of $50,000. 

“A consumer purchasing a car should be able to expect that when they negotiate prices and terms for vehicles, the contracts will accurately reflect those agreements,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This settlement is a victory for New York consumers, and sends the message that car dealerships that take advantage of consumers by conning them into paying more for cars than they had agreed to will be held accountable. We will continue working to ensure that car dealerships throughout the state comply with the law.”

The settlement follows a May 2012 New York State Police raid and seizure of the dealer’s business records, which also resulted in the subsequent arrest and conviction of the dealership’s finance manager, Mark Moore, for second-degree Scheme to Defraud and third-degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument.

Following the raid, the Attorney General’s Office received a flood of complaints from customers of the former dealership, which revealed a pattern of fraudulent, deceptive and illegal practices. In addition to the practices described above, the complaints revealed that the dealership had engaged in a variety of bait and switch tactics, including crediting consumers for less than the agreed-upon amount for vehicle trade-ins; charging consumers more for vehicles than promised; financing consumers’ purchase at a higher interest rate than promised; and executing leases that included a lower yearly mileage limit than promised.  A number of consumers also alleged that their signatures had been forged on contract documents.

For the Attorney General’s tips that can help protect consumers when purchasing a vehicle, please visit www.ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/tips (Car Buying). 

Consumers who have a complaint are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline, (800) 771-7755, or file a consumer complaint at https://formsnym.ag.ny.gov/OAGOnlineSubmissionForm/faces/OAGCFCHome.

The investigation was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Emily Auletta and Amy Schallop, Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine and Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia with assistance from Senior Consumer Frauds Representative John Van Voris, all of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Manisha Sheth.