Indiana AG files lawsuit against car dealers attempting to defraud hundreds of customers

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The Indiana Attorney General’s office is cracking down on attempts to defraud hundreds of customers of used car dealerships.

The attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit last week against several defendants, including Wheels of Fortune LLC and Southpointe Motorcars LLC, as well as Jerramy Johnson and Jeffrey Presnell. Investigators said Johnson owned the businesses while both operated them.

“I was very upset,” Jennifer Nugent said.

Her case is one of several listed in the suit. She said she purchased a car from Southpointe Motorcars, and was told she would get the license within 30 days. That didn’t happen. He license plate expired, and she was pulled over and had to park her car.

“I was car-less. I actually had to quit my job,” Nugent, a single mother of two, said.

That’s just a small part of the lawsuit, though.

“They had owned and operated dealerships in the past, all of which eventually lost their dealer license due to the pair’s misconduct,” Chris Proffitt, a spokesperson for the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, said. “In this case, Wheels of Fortune was never a licensed Indiana dealer, however they sold 350 vehicles from October of ’17 up to June of ’18.”

According to the lawsuit, the dealership purchased vehicles by using the auction access of another dealer, BWI Equipment, Inc., and using that dealer’s paperwork on sold vehicles.

Wheels of Fortune and Southpointe Motorcars are also accused of misrepresenting mileage on vehicles. In one instance listed in the lawsuit, a vehicle was advertised as having 110,000 miles when it actually had more than 298,000 miles.

Investigators said Johnson and Presnell also rebuilt salvage vehicles at Mid America Auto Remarketing before selling them to other dealers. The pair is accused of paying an IMPD sergeant to sign off on the repairs, without having inspected the vehicles.

“Four hundred fifteen vehicles without conducting the required inspection. So what does that say to you? It says to us there could be hundreds of vehicles on the road that could be unsafe,” Proffitt said.

IMPD said the sergeant has separated from the department. He pleaded guilty in July to official misconduct after he was accused of falsely signing an affidavit for at least one vehicle.

The dealerships are also accused in the lawsuit of avoiding paying the proper sales tax on sold vehicles and failing to deliver titles in a timely manner to customers.

Nugent got rid of the car and filed a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General.

The office is asking anyone who experienced issues with the dealerships or individuals to contact them. But in the meantime there are tips you can take to avoid a scam.

“Check to make sure the dealership name and purchase documents match up. The other thing is find out the history of that vehicle,” Proffitt said.

You can also check if the dealer is a licensed dealer, make sure you receive a ‘Dealer Title Affidavit’ if you don’t receive a title at the time of sale and make sure your purchase documentation matches what you paid the dealer.