(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed lawsuits seeking to dial back odometer-tampering schemes at two Columbus-area used-car dealerships.
The lawsuits against S Automotive and its owner, Simon Nwaru Jr., and Kalango Links and its owner, Korite Michael Kalango, also accuse both dealerships of failing to inform consumers when they were buying rebuilt salvaged vehicles.
“These dealers went out of their way to make sure that customers had no idea what they were actually buying,” Yost said. “Consumers didn’t realize their car would come fully equipped with buyer’s remorse.”
The Attorney General’s Office received 57 consumer complaints about the dealerships, prompting Yost to file suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
Thirty-nine complaints were about S Automotive, currently operating in Whitehall. Of those, 33 were about the dealership’s failure to deliver titles, three were about misrepresentations, and three were about odometer discrepancies. Twenty-six of the consumers who filed complaints about title issues were not aware that the vehicles they bought had odometer discrepancies.
In the Kalango Links case, the Attorney General’s Office received 18 consumer complaints, most alleging odometer tampering. The dealership operates on Cleveland Avenue in Columbus.
Yost’s investigation of S Automotive and Kalango Links found in some cases that the dealerships had been selling cars with rebuilt titles but did not disclose the information in writing to consumers. A rebuilt title is issued to vehicles that have been repaired after having been declared a total loss by an insurance company as a result of collision damage, fire or flood, or even because of a manufacturer’s buyback due to a lemon law claim.
The lawsuit accuses S Automotive of violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, the Certificate of Motor Vehicle Title Act, and the Odometer Rollback and Disclosure Act, including:
- Failing to file applications for certificates of title within 30 days after the assignment or delivery of motor vehicles.
- Selling motor vehicles to consumers and then failing to obtain certificates of title on or before the 40th day after the sale.
- Failing to disclose to consumers that they were purchasing a rebuilt salvaged vehicle.
- Misrepresenting the odometer disclosure statements.
- Failing to provide true and complete odometer disclosures.
- Adjusting, altering, changing, tampering with or setting back an odometer of a motor vehicle.
Yost is demanding that Nwaru reimburse consumers for the vehicles they bought and recover the amount of money the Title Defect Recision Fund paid to resolve the consumer complaints. Additionally, the complaint asks the court to impose civil penalties and prohibit Nwaru from maintaining or applying for auto-dealer or salesperson licenses.
Likewise, the lawsuit against Kalango Links accuses the dealership of violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and the Odometer Rollback and Disclosure Act.
In that case, Yost is demanding that Kalango reimburse consumers for the vehicles they bought, and pay civil penalties and court costs. The suit also seeks to prohibit Kalango from maintaining or applying for auto-dealer or salesperson licenses.
Yost’s Consumer Protection Section reminds consumers to take the following steps when buying a used car:
- Check for any complaints against the dealership with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau.
- Get everything in writing and read the fine print.
- Take the vehicle for an extended test drive.
- Ask about prior damage, defects and repair history. Check out the vehicle’s history through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System at nmvtis.gov
- Ask a trustworthy mechanic to check the car for problems.
- If a dealer does not provide the title within 30 days of the purchase date, contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.