NEWARK – The Division of Consumer Affairs has settled its lawsuit against Lencore Leasing, Inc., with the Paterson-based used car dealership agreeing to pay $66,000 in civil penalties and investigative and legal cost reimbursements to the State. Lencore Leasing also has agreed to resolve existing and future consumer complaints for a period of one year by means of binding arbitration through the Division’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Unit.
The Division of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Law filed suit against Lencore Leasing in State Superior Court in Paterson in May 2012, alleging that the dealership misrepresented the condition of the vehicles it offered for sale and failed to disclose damage to and prior use of the vehicles. Lencore Leasing, which does business as North Jersey Auto Mall, and its owner, Lenny Belot, were named as defendants.
Without admitting that any violations were committed, Lencore Leasing and Belot agreed to conduct business in compliance with the State’s Consumer Fraud Act, Used Car Lemon Law, and Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations, under terms of the Final Consent Judgment filed with the Court.
“Used cars aren’t cheap, and our laws require consumers to be informed about prior damage or use as a fleet or rental vehicle before they put their hard-earned money down,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “This settlement will enable consumers shopping for cars to make informed decisions as it requires that all necessary disclosures be made in the future.”
Under the terms of the settlement, defendants will pay $29,000 in civil penalties, in addition to $37,000 in reimbursement of the State’s attorneys’ fees and investigative costs. An additional $50,000 in civil penalties is suspended, but will become immediately payable if the defendants fail to comply with the settlement terms within the next year. The settlement also provides that any current consumer complaint or complaint to be received by the Division within the next year be forwarded to defendants for resolution and, if not resolved, to the Division’s ADR Unit for binding arbitration. The complaints of 17 consumers, who collectively seek $135,528.49 in restitution, will be addressed through this process.
“Hiding or not disclosing vehicle damage violates our consumer protection laws and we will hold dealers accountable for such deception,” said Eric T. Kanefsky, Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. “Those who think they can profit by doing superficial things like patching body panel holes and painting over rust to dupe consumers will find out how wrong they are.”
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Koziar in the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section of the Division of Law represented the State in this action. Investigator Murat Botas in the Commercial Fraud Unit in the Division of Consumer Affair’s Office of Consumer Protection, conducted the investigation. Director Kanefsky thanks the Passaic County Office of Consumer Affairs for forwarding consumer complaints and assisting state investigators in this matter.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.
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