Daniels Automotive employees regularly altered sales documents and engaged in other deceptive acts

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (June 22, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his office has secured and is now distributing more than $100,000 to consumers who were defrauded by a Geneva used car dealership.

The money is the result of a lawsuit won by Cuomo’s office against the owners and employees of Daniels Automotive Group, also known as Howard-Oldsmobile-Cadillac-Pontiac-GMC Truck, Inc., that defrauded 38 consumers throughout the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions.

“This dealership engaged in a pattern of deception and fraud that cost unsuspecting consumers thousands of dollars,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “These practices have been put to a stop, and we have secured restitution for those the dealership ripped off.”

From August to December 2008, Daniels’ Automotive, located at 844 Canandaigua Road in Geneva, employed multiple fraudulent schemes when selling used vehicles throughout the region. The Attorney General’s investigation found that owner Daniel T. Howard, former sales manager Ronald J. Cox and sales staff were involved in scams regarding loan and credit applications, sales of fictitious warranties, failure to pay off traded-in vehicles and even identity theft.

According to the Attorney General’s lawsuit, the dealership engaged in various fraudulent practices, including:

* Obtaining consumers’ signatures on blank or partially blank documents and subsequently inserting figures and terms inconsistent with the numbers agreed upon during sales negotiations.
* Charging consumers for extended warranty repair service contracts without the customers’ knowledge or consent.
* Misrepresenting to customers that they were required to purchase an extended warranty or they wouldn’t be approved by a lending institution
* Falsely promising to refinance vehicles purchased at a lower interest rate after the consumer made several monthly payments
* Refusing to refund deposits to consumers who did not wish to purchase a car or who had been denied financing to purchase a car
* Submitting purchase and loan documents to financial institutions and other state agencies with forged signatures.
* Pocketing consumer deposits and advance payments for purchase of automobiles
* Submitting forged credit applications with falsified and inflated financial and employment information in order to induce lending institutions to approve inflated automobile prices and loans
* Forging credit applications from consumers with fake employment and inflated salary amounts, then changing the consumer’s employer’s telephone number to the Daniels employee’s number, who would then impersonate fictitious employers and fraudulently verify employment.
* Reneging on the acceptance of trade-in vehicles that were part of a vehicle purchase deal

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Bruce under the supervision of Attorney General-In-Charge of the Rochester Regional Office Debra Martin and Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs J. David Sampson.