The Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s Office filed a suit in Luzerne County Court on Thursday, May 23, claiming a Wilkes-Barre, PA, auto dealer defrauded customers, knowingly selling them vehicles that wouldn’t pass inspection without making them aware.
The suit names RCMS Auto Sales, which does business under the name Auto Now, as a defendant, along with its owner, Thomas Hashem.
Filed by Juan P. Sánchez, senior deputy attorney general, the suit states the auto dealer has a registered business address in Scranton, but most recently operated at 141 Spring St., Wilkes-Barre. The company also operated locations in Moosic and Scranton.
According to the suit, Hashem is the only active salesperson that works with the company. Sánchez is alleging that Auto Now, under the direction of Hashem, knowingly defrauded numerous customers.
This fraud came by way of misrepresenting the condition of vehicles being sold, even failing to disclose that some vehicles would be unable to pass inspection.
Sánchez took issue with numerous things advertised by Auto Now:
Auto Now advertised that it had a credit restoration program, but Sánchez claims Auto Now had no such program.
Additionally, the company claimed all vehicles were serviced by a licensed technician, but the suit says none were.
The company also claimed a warranty was placed on every vehicle, but many were not “warrantable due to pre-existing mechanical issues that (Auto Now) knew or should have known existed.”
The suit lays out a few specific examples, claiming one Lackawanna County customer purchased a vehicle in September 2014 from Auto Now for more than $7,000, including a $125 warranty.
Shortly after purchase, in October 2014, the customer noticed a noise coming from the engine compartment. After contacting the warranty company, the vehicle was diagnosed as having pre-existing engine issues that caused serious engine failure.
While the issue was pre-existing and thus disqualifying for a warranty claim, the warranty company paid $1,900 “as a form of good will,” the suit says.
The Attorney General’s Office is seeking a court order to be filed against the company, hoping to have them slapped with numerous fines and other modes of relief. These include: