Described as “bogus” by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, certain practices at a New York car dealership have resulted in a $298,000 settlement to resolve fraud allegations. Specifically, Pana Nissan LLC — which was doing business as Nissan of New Rochelle in the Queens section of New York City – was charging car-buyers for an unwanted and essentially useless “Total Car Protection” anti-theft product. The price of this bogus add-on ranged from a few hundred dollars up to $5,000 and was tacked on after the sale was finalized.
According to the attorney general’s office, the investigation began in August 2015 after a consumer complaint. This fact, says consumers’ rights attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, demonstrates the significance of members of the public coming forward when they suspect wrongdoing is going on unchecked. Mr. Benjamin has seen what’s to gain by securing successful verdicts and settlements in court and his hard work on behalf of clients when trying deceptive practice claims has been a point of personal pride for years. Mr. Benjamin’s sentiments on the settlement were confirmed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman when the restitution was announced in an August 2017 press release from his office.
“Consumers should not have to worry that they are being scammed into adding on bogus products and services when they purchase a car,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Buying a car is already a major investment for many families, and tacking on thousands of dollars extra can become a significant financial burden. I am pleased that we are able to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution to the nearly 300 consumers who were scammed and defrauded.”
According to the attorney general’s office, the “Total Loss Protection” guarantee was supposed to be an engraving of the vehicle’s VIN number onto the windows of the vehicle in hopes of deterring theft. However, this etching was either not carried out or done in the style of a sticker in the door jamb, which wouldn’t be immediately visible to would-be thieves. According to attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, who has spent years trying and settling consumers’ rights cases in courts across New York and New Jersey, this is a perfect example of what one whistle-blower can do. Mr. Benjamin advises those in the New York City and Long Island area to contact his practice should they have fraud allegations that could result in a lawsuit. His firm is accustomed to going up against adversaries with limitless resources, and they are those cases his firm seeks out and upon which they offer decades of litigation skill and experience.
According to the attorney general’s office, the $276,127 will be refunded to 298 customers who were duped into paying for the Total Loss Protection. Nissan of New Rochelle was also fined $22,084 and agreed to “reforms” of its sales practices, including full disclosure of all after-sale products.