By Steve Pope | November 15, 2018
Two Pittsburgh-area car dealers are among 20 that were recently cited by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office for allegedly engaging in fraudulent sales practices.
“These car dealerships used deceptive advertising and were dishonest with Pennsylvania consumers,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Car buyers are making a significant investment, and they need to have full knowledge of whom they are buying from. When businesses skirt that process and violate the law, we will hold them accountable and force change in behavior.”
Investigators targeted car dealers advertising on websites like Craigslist in the “for sale by owner” section. The fact that the car was being sold by a dealership was not disclosed in the advertisement.
Two car dealers in Allegheny County, Rau Automotive on Butler Street in Pittsburgh and Premier Automotive on Saw Mill Run Boulevard, were the only two car dealers in Allegheny County who allegedly made deceptive claims, according to AG Shapiro.
In a court filing, Adam Rau, who owns Rau Automotive agreed that in July he sold three cars that were advertised on Craigslist and he failed to disclose that the cars were being sold by a car dealer, and falsely represented that the cars were being sold by a private person.
In addition to paying $920 in fines and costs, Rau agreed to stop deceptive advertising practices, including representation to buyers that vehicles are being sold by private individuals instead of through car dealers.
In a similar filing a Premier official also agreed to stop deceiving potential car buyers and agreed to pay $920 in fines and costs.
Earlier this year an Indiana County man alleged in a lawsuit that Premier intentionally failed to disclose that a car he purchased had significant damage to its frame that was so bad the car is unable to pass inspection.
“The vehicle had extensive frame damage and a hole in the bottom of the vehicle leading to the cab of the vehicle,” the complaint said.
The case is still pending in Common Pleas Court.
Mr. Shapiro said the state collected more than $10,500 in civil penalties and costs for the illegal advertisement of at least 178 vehicles to consumers.
Steve Pope can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org