A Chevrolet dealership in Jacksonville, Florida has been forced to pay over $1.2 million in restitution after it failed to pay off the loans on customer trade-in vehicles, which negatively affected their credit.
The dealership, Riverside Chevrolet, didn’t pay off certain customer trade-in vehicles and was also found to have charged owners for warranties that they then refused to fulfill. Furthermore, ex-employees of the now-shuttered dealership accused its operators of fraud, failing to pay them and cheating them out of benefits.
The dealership was exposed after local news outlet WJXT was tipped off by customers and subsequently conducted a year-long, deep-dive investigation into the store. The station eventually turned its records over to the authorities and the Florida Attorney General’s Office opened a civil investigation.
According to WJXT, Riverside Chevrolet has agreed to pay a total of $1,215,219 in restitution to customers whose vehicle liens it failed to pay and it must also pay $235,000 in civil penalties and $15,000 in attorney’s fees. It’s not clear how many victims there were in total, but 17 of them were senior citizens, WJXT said. Others were military personnel whose dip in credit negatively affected their security clearances at work.
“This was an example of motor fraud at its worst,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said.
General Motors froze Riverside Chevrolet’s assets shortly after its illegal activities came to light in May of last year. The dealership’s owner, Andrew Ferguson, then sold the store to Beaver Automotive Group in June of last year, which now operates it under the Beaver Chevrolet banner. Ferguson has also now been barred from owning or operating an automotive dealership in the state of Florida ever again.