When a vehicle is totaled in an accident, it doesn’t always go straight to the scrap heap. Some totaled vehicles, although worth less than their insurance coverage, are still reparable. As long as they can be repaired and pass safety inspections, they can be resold. When totaled vehicles are resold without meeting these requirements, that’s when the resellers run into trouble, as three car dealerships in Pennsylvania recently discovered.
According to a recent lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, three car dealerships, all located in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, conspired with each other to sell totaled vehicles while lying about the status of their titles and safety inspections.
The lawsuit further alleges that not all of these vehicles may have been obtained legally. According to the complaint, some of the totaled cars had their vehicle identification numbers (VINs) removed to prevent the police from detecting vehicles that had been stolen.
The lawsuit claims the businesses and individuals listed as named defendants in the lawsuit committed fraud with the aim of selling the damaged cars in other states like New Jersey and Massachusetts. Selling the cars across state lines would have made them more difficult for law enforcement to trace.
The lawsuit claims the defendants put totaled cars back on the road without giving them so much as a passing inspection. Their actions allegedly allowed them to collect millions of dollars in profit while endangering their customers.
In addition to the three car dealerships, the lawsuit also lists three individuals, Igor Dratch, Oleg Zelenko, and David Morrison (all Pennsylvania residents) of conspiring with each other and the three car dealerships to defraud state and federal authorities, as well as their customers.
An investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office found that, rather than posting photos and videos of the totaled cars they were selling as they actually were, the car dealers allegedly used stock photos of similar cars to make consumers think they were getting a better car than the one that was really being sold to them.
Mark Powell, the District Attorney for Lackawanna County, said his office’s investigation of the three car dealerships started when George Frietto of George’s Garage on North Keyser Avenue claimed to have inspected more than 240 vehicles in a 10-day period. The D.A. said they had video footage to prove that was not the case. That one lie turned out to be the loose thread the D.A. and Pennsylvania Attorney General were able to pull until they unraveled the entire alleged crime ring.
Since that first red flag, the lawsuit has expanded to include individual defendants, 21 businesses, and more than eight allegations, including washing vehicle titles, insurance fraud, and bribery.
If you’re a victim of fraud and deceit, you want attorneys who are are there for you. We fight for your rights and work diligently on your behalf to get you justice and the just compensation you may be due. We’re there for you in, around and even beyond Chicago. From Oakbrook to Northbrook and any city you can name, we claim jurisdiction over claims of fraud and a huge range of business law disputes that may involve litigation. Call us to discuss your legal needs during a FREE consultation. Call 833-305-4933 or via our website by clicking here. We look forward to speaking with you.
Our car dealer fraud law firm has handled well over a hundred auto fraud cases and taken a number to judgment. We have won punitive damages against deceptive car dealers and aggressively pursue our clients’ claims with the goal of making them whole thorough settlements or judgments.
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