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Selling used cars can be lucrative enough to lead to conspiracies

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2022 | Consumer Protection

Many forms of vehicle sales fraud can negatively affect those hoping to buy new or used vehicles in Pennsylvania. They can pay more than a vehicle is worth, wind up with a lemon or even accidentally purchase a stolen vehicle.

Sometimes, an individual suffers because of one professional’s unethical behavior. An example would be a salesperson lying about the condition of a vehicle to push someone into paying more than they should for it. However, some cases of auto sale fraud involve multiple people cooperating to defraud as many people as possible.

Pennsylvania prosecutors have brought charges against nearly two dozen people, all of whom played a role in a used car fraud conspiracy.

People pretended they had the backing of a dealership

A group of individuals worked together to purchase used vehicles at the auctions typically frequented by dealerships and then sought to resell those vehicles to consumers, largely through online marketplaces.

Not only did the individuals selling these vehicles claim that they had ties to a dealership and could offer forms of buyer support that were not available, but they also reported lower sale prices to the state than what they charge the customers. They even gave some of the new owners fake license plates for their vehicles.

Additionally, some of the people involved in the vehicle fraud conspiracy were also charged with secondary fraud charges, including public benefits fraud and tax fraud. Before the state intervened, unsuspecting people bought vehicles from what they thought were employees of a dealership, only to learn that there was no licensed business backing the promises made by the individuals selling those vehicles.

How fraudulent sales hurt buyers

Buyers may offer more for a vehicle when they think there is a warranty or other protection that reduces their risk in the transaction. Those tricked and manipulated by sellers can sometimes take action if they lost money because of the fraud they encountered at a dealership or from individuals claiming to work for a dealership.

Those who misrepresent their status as a dealership-affiliated salespeople and those who lie about the condition of vehicles could face criminal charges and possibly civil claims in court. Learning more about current dealership fraud cases in Pennsylvania could help you identify warning signs that someone has tried to take advantage of you.

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