Boston — A Westport used auto dealership and its former owner will pay $450,000 in restitution and penalties to resolve allegations that the dealership sold unsafe and defective used vehicles and violated Massachusetts laws relating to used auto sales, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The consent judgment, entered in Bristol County Superior Court, settles a lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office against now-defunct F&R Auto Sales Inc. and its former owner Francis Correiro. The complaint alleged F&R Auto and Correiro sold unsafe and defective vehicles between August 2012 and December 2016 when the business closed.
“This business and its owner cheated customers and threatened public safety by putting dangerous vehicles on the road,” said AG Healey. “I am pleased that this settlement will allow us to get money back to consumers defrauded by F&R Auto.”
The AG’s Office began its investigation after receiving more than 100 individual consumer complaints alleging deceptive auto sales and practices by F&R Auto, including the routine sale of defective vehicles and the failure to provide proper transactional documents to consumers.
The investigation revealed the defendants frequently misrepresented to buyers that vehicles were safe and reliable in order to make sales. When consumers discovered issues with their vehicles, the dealership would frequently dismiss them or refuse to make repairs.
For example, one consumer complained F&R Auto failed to make agreed-upon repairs to a car the consumer purchased from the dealership. When the consumer took the car to a different dealership, he was told it needed $15,805 worth of repairs, a price that far exceeded what he paid for the car. F&R Auto sold another consumer a faulty truck that broke down within 24 hours of its delivery and then refused to provide a copy of the truck’s inspection report upon the consumer’s request. The consumer brought the truck to a mechanic who told him several parts in the vehicle needed replacement, including the shocks and rotted-out portions of the muffler and tailpipe.
The investigation found that in addition to selling defective vehicles, F&R Auto and Correiro failed to assign titles to vehicles or provide consumers with copies of the appropriate documents relating to the sale of vehicles, thereby preventing them from fully understanding their transactions, getting their vehicles registered and inspected, and exercising their lemon law rights to get repairs or refunds
F&R Auto and Correiro also failed to safeguard consumers’ sensitive and private information, including Social Security and financial account numbers.
Under the terms of the settlement with the AG’s Office, F&R Auto and Correiro will pay $400,000 to affected consumers and $50,000 in penalties, and another $50,000 in suspended penalties for any violation of the settlement. The settlement also permanently prohibits Correiro from selling unsafe and defective cars and requires him to notify the AG’s Office if he ever participates in the sale of used vehicles again.