NY dealer to repay victims of fraudulent car sales

NEW YORK -- A New York auto dealer must pay almost $300,000 in restitution to customers for fraudulent sales practices _ including adding unwanted options and pressuring customers into signing blank contracts.

In a statement released Sunday, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said customers were duped into buying vehicles after terms of the sales and financing were misrepresented.

Some were left with cars they could not finance, and ruined credit reports.

Earlier this month, a Brooklyn state Supreme Court judge ordered Brooklyn dealer John Giuffre and his dealerships Giuffre Hyundai, Giuffre Kia, Giuffre Mitsubishi and Giuffre Mazda to pay $294,500 in restitution to 46 consumers, plus more than $200,000 in civil penalties and costs.

"This order is a victory for consumers who were ripped off by Giuffre car dealerships," Schneiderman said. "My office will continue to aggressively monitor business practices of dealerships around the state to ensure they comply with the laws designed to keep the auto market honest and maintain a level playing field for consumers."

The dealer did not return a call for comment on Sunday.

The Brooklyn state Supreme Court judge, Bernard J. Graham, first issued a decision in the Giuffre case last December, finding that the dealer had engaged in fraudulent and illegal business practices.

The judge noted that many of the victims were "older persons, unsophisticated, or unfamiliar with English, and each person wound up owning a car that they never intended to buy or a price that was dishonestly represented to them."