(Phoenix, Ariz. – June 26, 2009) Attorney General Terry Goddard and Felecia A. Rotellini, Superintendent of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions, today announced a consumer fraud lawsuit against the owners and managers of two used motor vehicle dealerships, LD Automotive Group in Cave Creek and Phoenix-based 2020 Automotive.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this week in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleges that Leonard Diaz, Abraham Bekelian and Patrick Beck, owners of 2020 Automotive in Phoenix and Leonard Diaz, owner of LD Automotive Group in Cave Creek, violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act by using deceptive advertising techniques. The suit also alleges violations of the Motor Vehicle Time Sales Disclosure Act by Diaz.
According to court documents, 2020 Automotive refused to sell some cars at the price advertised. Allegedly, 2020 Automotive salespeople told consumers that they were required to purchase certain “dealer add-ons,” including vehicle theft registration, paint protection sealant and window tint, which cost several hundred dollars.
Additionally, the complaint states that the defendants failed to disclose that a “fuel fee” would be added to the cost of each motor vehicle. The defendants allegedly buried the fee among charges for license and registration in the sale paperwork, creating the appearance that the fee was required by the government or was otherwise mandatory. The lawsuit alleges that Diaz continued these practices when he left 2020 Automotive and opened his own dealership, LD Automotive, including charging a $69 fuel fee as part of each motor vehicle transaction.
Additionally, Rotellini alleges that Diaz violated the Motor Vehicle Time Sales Disclosure Act by failing to obtain the required licenses from the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions. Arizona law requires motor vehicle dealers to obtain a motor vehicle dealer’s license as well as a sales finance license if they hold retail installment sales contracts. According to investigators, Diaz admitted to holding installment sales contracts. Although Diaz applied for both licenses in July, 2008, he never completed the licensing process and continued to operate LD Automotive in violation of Arizona law.
The complaint against Bekelian, Beck and Diaz seeks injunctive relief, consumer restitution, civil penalties and attorney’s fees and costs, as authorized by the Consumer Fraud Act, the Motor Vehicle Time Sales Disclosure Act and other laws.
In the past year, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has initiated seven lawsuits involving auto-advertising fraud.
Assistant Attorney General Dena Rosen Epstein is handling this case.
If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud, please contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at 602.542.5763, in Tucson at 520.628.6504 or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro area at 1.800.352.8431. To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General’s Office has satellite offices throughout Arizona with volunteers available to help. Locations and hours are posted on the Attorney General’s Web site, www.azag.gov. An online complaint form is also posted on the Attorney General’s Web site.
The Arizona Department of Financial Institutions also accepts consumer complaints. A complaint form is available on the Department’s Web site, www.azdfi.gov, or in person at 2910 N. 44th Street, Suite 310, Phoenix, Arizona 85018.
For more information, please contact Anne Hilby at 602.542.8019.