If the attorney general's office is successful, Excel Auto Group could be ordered to "provide full restitution to all consumers from whom Defandant has received monies and who have been aggrieved by the use of any of the unlawful, unfair or deceptive acts and practices" described in the lawsuit.
A judge could also order the company and Bolton to pay a civil penalty to the state and also pay an amount equal to 10 percent "of the total restitution ordered against Defendant, or such other amount as the Court deems fair and equitable." The company might also have to pay the state for the cost of investigating and prosecuting Excel Auto Group.
KY3 started looking at the business after hearing from a KY3 viewer who bought a Toyota Sequoia from Excel. Its odometer showed nearly 120,000 miles but independent reports from Carfax showed that figure was about 100,000 miles short of the vehicle's actual mileage.
An affidavit filed by the attorney general’s office shows the lead investigator tracked down the previous owners of that car in Kansas. Those owners confirmed the vehicle had nearly 218,000 miles on it when they traded it in on April 20 of this year. That led to the state shutting down Excel Auto Group and Bolton.
This investigation has raised many questions for people who have had dealings with Excel Auto Group and Bolton, who has had other used car businesses. If you’re one of those customers, you can contact the Missouri Attorney General's Office at 1-800-392-8222 for an independent check of your vehicle’s actual mileage.
As for the inaccurate Carfax report that the victims in this case say the owner showed them, a spokesman for Carfax said people should look for a unique time stamp and URL at the bottom of a printed report about a vehicle. To be 100-percent safe, however, you can run your own check at carfax.com or at autocheck.com. It’ll cost you about $40.
Edited news release from Attorney General's Office:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Attorney General Chris Koster on Thursday obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting a car dealership in Springfield from selling vehicles and from altering the odometer of vehicles.
In addition to the restraining order, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit that alleged that Excel Auto Group, LLC, advertised, marketed and sold motor vehicles claiming the vehicles had lower mileage than they actually did. On at least two occasions Excel Auto Group advertised a 2002 Toyota Sequoia for sale, advertising the vehicle mileage of 119,600 miles. The actual mileage of the vehicle was more than 200,000 miles.
The temporary restraining order entered by Judge Jason Brown against the company prohibits Excel from violating Missouri’s consumer protection laws; from advertising, transferring, hiding, or selling motor vehicles; from altering the mileage reading and/or odometer reading of a motor vehicle; and from disposing of any documents related to the company’s advertisement or sale of motor vehicles.
“Consumers should be able to trust that a car they purchase has the correct mileage,” Koster said. “I want to continue to assure consumers that this office will be aggressive in going after those who engage in this illegal behavior.”
Koster recognized the Missouri Department of Revenue for its assistance in the investigation. A court hearing on the Attorney General’s request for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for June 21 at 1:30.
Citizens are encouraged to report complaints to the Attorney General Consumer Complaint Division at 800-392-8222 or complete a complaint form at the Attorney General’s website at http://ago.mo.gov/consumercomplaint.htm.