Pa. A.G. Takes Action Against Used Car Dealer

August 18, 2004

Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert has filed a civil lawsuit against a Monroe County used car dealer accused of failing to deliver the vehicles sold to consumers, failing to give consumers the titles to the vehicles purchased and/or performing inadequate or sub-standard work at the dealership’s repair shop.

The lawsuit seeks $63,000 in consumer restitution and fines, following an investigation into nearly a dozen complaints from car buyers located in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, plus New York and California.

Pappert identified the defendant as Raphael Smith, individually, and doing business as Elite Motor Sales and Elite Auto Sales, 434 Sterling Road, Tobyhanna, Monroe County. Smith is accused of violating Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law and Automotive Industry Trade Practices Regulations.

According to investigators, the defendant from 2002 to 2004 sold used vehicles to nine consumers at prices that ranged between $1,200 and $12,000. The car buyers either paid for the vehicles in cash or financed the cars through a bank or credit institution. In some cases, consumers purchased the vehicles and arranged the financing over the telephone with the understanding that they would accept delivery at a later date.

Several consumers filed complaints with the Bureau of Consumer Protection after they paid the defendant in full or arranged for financing of their cars and reportedly failed to receive the vehicles promised. In some cases, consumers said when they arrived to pick up their cars, they were not available. In at least one case, the defendant is accused of offering a consumer a different vehicle than the one already purchased.

Other consumers who purchased vehicles from the defendant complained that he reportedly failed to give them the official titles to their cars despite numerous requests to release the documents. Still other consumers said Smith’s repair shop at the dealership reportedly performed shoddy or substandard work and failed to correct the problems despite promises from Smith that he correct the problems, refund money for the repairs or, in at least one case, replace the vehicle altogether.

“Our lawsuit states that the defendant clearly ignored the law and accepted money for vehicles that he either did not possess or sold to other consumers,” Pappert said. “Our goal in this case is to obtain full refunds for car buyers and stop the defendant from engaging in these illegal business practices.”

The lawsuit asks the court to require the defendant to:

– Pay more than $48,000 in restitution to consumers, plus pay full refunds to others who can prove that they were similarly harmed by the alleged illegal activity.

– Pay $15,000 in civil penalties.

– Forfeit his right to operate a car dealership or sell vehicles in the Commonwealth until consumer restitution has been satisfied.

– Pay the Commonwealth’s investigation costs.

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