Division of Consumer Affairs Brings Second Lawsuit
Against Ramsey Dealership for Fraudulent Sales Practices
NEWARK—The Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs have filed suit against a Ramsey dealership for allegedly violating the state's Consumer Fraud Act ("CFA") and regulations in its advertisement and sale of used motor vehicles.
This is the second lawsuit filed by the state in recent years against Ramsey Auto Imports of Route 17, Inc., which does business as Ramsey Chrysler Jeep Dodge. The state, in its 2005 lawsuit, alleged that Ramsey Auto Imports and several associated dealerships violated the CFA and the Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations. As part of the settlement, Ramsey Auto Imports, among other things, agreed not to engage in any future deceptive practices in violation of the CFA and the Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations and acknowledged that future violations would subject it to enhanced civil penalties.
The current lawsuit alleges that the dealership offered for sale used motor vehicles without disclosing to consumers prior damage, prior use as rental vehicles, current odometer readings and the actual selling price, among other violations of the CFA and Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations. The current lawsuit also alleges that, by this conduct, the dealership violated the terms of the prior settlement.
"We allege this dealership is a repeat violator, hiding relevant facts from consumers in order to make sales," Attorney General Paula T. Dow said. "We're seeking enhanced penalties and an end to all illegal business practices."
The dealership faces civil penalties up to $20,000 for each violation of the CFA. The state's four-count Complaint was filed in State Superior Court in Bergen County. The state's allegations are based upon the Division's investigation of Ramsey Auto Import's advertisement of used motor vehicles through www.craigslist.com ("Craigslist"), as well as at its dealership located at 435 Route 17 North in Ramsey.
The complaint alleges that in its Craigslist ads, the dealership failed to disclose:
its business name and address;
- the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the vehicle being offered for sale;
the actual odometer reading;
- prior use of the vehicle;
- prior damage to the vehicle; and
- the required statement that "price(s) include(s) all costs to be paid by the consumer, except for licensing costs, registration fees, and taxes".
The complaint also alleges that at its location, the dealership failed to disclose:
the price of an advertised used motor vehicle; and
- the Used Car Buyer's Guide (by posting it).
"Whether the consumer shops online or at the dealership, state law and regulations require the seller to disclose key information to potential buyers. The cyberspace marketplace is not a lawless frontier and Consumer Affairs investigators are proactively monitoring online sales sites, in addition to checking ‘brick-and-mortar' stores," said Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs.
Investigator Murat Botas of the Office of Consumer Protection conducted the investigation of this case. Deputy Attorney General Cathleen O'Donnell of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section is representing the state in this action.