Phoenix – Attorney General Mark Brnovich today announced Uncle Joe’s Auto Sales is banned from selling cars in Arizona after violating the state's Consumer Fraud Act. The used car dealership and its owners will also pay $70,000 in consumer restitution. The restitution is part of a Consent Judgment reached against Front Line Auto Auction, LLC, doing business as Uncle Joe’s Auto Sales and Uncle Joe’s Auto Consignment Shop (“Uncle Joe’s”) and its principals, Joseph and Gina Colombo. The Consent Judgment also bans Uncle Joe’s and the Colombo’s from owning, operating, or managing a motor vehicle sales or finance business in Arizona.
“This dealership targeted Arizona families with no credit or poor credit, charging them outrageous fees,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Buying a car is a major investment for most families and this office will continue to take a tough stance against used car scams and auto dealer fraud.”
The Consent Judgment resolves the state’s Consumer Fraud Lawsuit filed in March 2015. The Attorney General’s Office received more than 30 consumer complaints about Uncle Joe’s, even though the business, located near 24th Street and Bell Road, was only open for about 8 months. In the Consent Judgment, Uncle Joe’s and the Colombo’s admitted to engaging in numerous false, misleading, unfair, and deceptive acts and practices, including:
- Misrepresenting the condition of defendants’ motor vehicles and their willingness and ability to repair motor vehicles;
- Misrepresenting in Craigslist advertisements that their sales were private (non-dealer) sales;
- Making deceptive statements in order to obtain deposits and/or down payments from consumers and then refusing to return those deposits;
- Overcharging consumers and charging unreasonable fees for registration, title, filing, and other miscellaneous fees “paid to public officials, including filing fees”;
- Misrepresenting the interest rate (APR) on buyers' finance contracts;
- Selling vehicles “as is” in violation of Arizona law, and failing to honor statutorily required warranties; and
- Making deceptive statements that conflicted with the written terms of their sales and finance agreements.
Restitution may also be available to additional consumers who file complaints before February 15, 2016. The Defendants are also required to pay $5,000 for attorney’s fees and costs and $360,000 in civil penalties, of which $335,000 will be waived if the Defendants make their payments on time and comply with all of the terms of the Consent Judgment.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Alyse C. Meislik.
If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by contacting the Attorney General's Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6504, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431. Bilingual consumer protection staff is available to assist. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Arizona Attorney General’s website.
If you have additional questions, members of the media may contact Mia Garcia, Director of Media Relations at (602) 339-5895 or Mia.Garcia@azag.gov.
Full copy of the consent judgment.