For Immediate Release - March 26, 2015

AG’s Office Participates in Federal-State Crackdown on Auto Sales Fraud

Partners with the Federal Trade Commission and Law Enforcement Agencies Nationwide in “Operation Ruse Control”

BOSTON – Along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 32 law enforcement partners, Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office today announced its participation in “Operation Ruse Control,” a nationwide and cross-border crackdown to protect consumers when they buy a car, encompassing a total of 252 enforcement actions.

Last year, the FTC reached out to national, state, and local law enforcement agencies to participate in its nationwide sweep against automobile dealers that use deceptive sales tactics. “Operation Ruse Control” partnered the AG’s Office with the FTC, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Alabama, Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, state agencies, including other Attorneys General, and other law enforcement agencies at the federal and local level in the United States and Canada.

Enforcement efforts included a range of deceptive advertising charges, criminal automotive loan application fraud, odometer fraud, deceptive add-on fees, and deceptive marketing of car title loans. Today, the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection announced the sweep at a press event in Birmingham, Ala. There were 187 enforcement actions in the United States since the agency’s last sweep, and 65 actions in Ontario and British Columbia, Canada.

Since January 2014, the AG’s Office obtained a $175,000 settlement with four Western Massachusetts car dealerships over allegations of deceptive advertising, and filed a lawsuit against Auto Number One, a South Shore car dealership, for selling unsafe motor vehicles.

AG Healey offers the following advice for consumers buying a new or used car from a dealer:

  • Ask a friend or relative to recommend a reputable dealer, and research the dealer online;
  • Determine the value of the vehicle before you negotiate the purchase by checking the National Automobile Dealers Association's (NADA) GuidesEdmunds, or Kelley Blue Book;
  • Do not buy a used car until it has been inspected by a mechanic of your choosing;
  • Carefully review a contract for all terms of a proposed sale;
  • If a dealer offers you an extended warranty, carefully read and understand the warranty terms;
  • Know your rights under the Massachusetts Used Vehicle Warranty Law, that may provide a statutory warranty for vehicles with fewer than 125,000 miles; and
  • Consult with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation for more information.

This operation follows the FTC’s previous sweep against 10 auto dealers, and is part of the agency’s ongoing effort to protect consumers purchasing and financing a new vehicle.

Massachusetts consumers with questions or concerns can call the Attorney General’s consumer hotline at (617)727-8400, file a complaint with the office, or visit the AG’s website for more information.