A recent case reminded me just how common-place customer forgeries are in car deals.
The dealer had forged my client’s signature on a Carfax report to try to avoid liability for misrepresenting a vehicle. At the time of purchase, the dealer had misrepresented that the vehicle had only been in one, minor accident, and that it had been thoroughly inspected and everything checked out. The same old story.
In reality, the vehicle had been in multiple severe accidents and had a damaged and distorted frame, worn and mismatched tires and other defects.
The only problem – for the dealer – was that the Carfax report that she was alleged to have signed, and which the dealer alleged had been generated during the appraisal process, indicated that it was not printed out until a week after the sale.
The dealer attorney tried to cover up the forgery by misrepresenting that the date on the report did not mean that was the date that report was printed by the dealer, but rather was a product of his own computer system. This made little sense.
There have been several articles printed in the industry literature on the subject. These articles make it evident that dealer personnel, and in particular, Finance and Insurance Managers, routinely forge customer signatures.
For instance, in an article in Auto News entitled Signing a Customer’s Name is Forgery… Period, the author states:
Most F&I managers probably don’t think of it as forgery when they occasionally sign a customer’s signature for them — but that’s just what it is, says F&I trainer Gil Van Over.
“They rationalize their felonies,” he says. For instance, he says, an F&I manager may want to spare the customer a return trip to the dealership.
In an article in F&I Showroom entitled A Newbie’s Guide to F&I, the author acknowledge that “F&I is the most important chair in the selling process. Any great dealer principal, general manager or general sales manager has sat in that chair at one time in their career.” But even more interestingly, one of the comments left on the Website by another F&I “professional” who recommends that newbies learn how to forge customer signatures:
“My .02 is that every once in a while, more often than not, you’re gonna get a few missing signatures. Learn how to copy signatures, becuase you’ll be doing it all the time. You don’t want to bother the customer to come back in and fill in the missing signatures. Without using the word “forgery,” learn how to sign documents on behalf of the customer – that’s my advice.”