Rutledge Announces Trial Victory Over Northwest Arkansas Used Auto Dealer
Says, ‘Used car dealers must deliver title according to the law’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza has found northwest Arkansas auto dealer John Vancuren, and his wife Michelle Vancuren, as well as their companies, Infinity Auto Sales, Inc., Infinity Towing and Recovery, Inc. and Vancurens Auto Sales, Inc. liable for 59 violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Judge Piazza ordered the Vancurens and their companies liable for $590,000 in civil penalties, $73,001.71 in restitution, and he enjoined the Vancurens from engaging in the business of used car sales.
“I applaud Judge Piazza’s ruling on behalf of the brave men and women who testified and stood up to John and Michelle Vancuren in Court,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Used car dealers must deliver title according to the law. These types of deceitful actions by an Arkansas business, which harm consumers and the overall business community, must be met with strong consequences.”
The five-day bench trial had 26 witnesses testifying the Vancurens failed to deliver title to their cars, failed to satisfy prior liens on the vehicles and they otherwise failed to return money rightfully belonging to consumers.
According to the complaint filed December 2016, the Vancurens routinely submitted a customer’s loan application to a third-party lender, and, if approved, the lender deposited the loan into the Vancurens’ bank account, leaving them with a lump sum of the loan proceeds and the borrower with the obligation to repay the lender. In several cases, however, the customer returned the purchased vehicle due to mechanical issues, and the Vancurens failed to return the loan proceeds, leaving the customer with a debt to pay and no vehicle. In other cases, the Vancurens convinced the consumer to purchase another vehicle with financing from a different third-party lender, but the Vancurens failed to refund the original loan proceeds, leaving the consumer with two loans on two different vehicles, but only one vehicle in possession.
Many consumer complaints have been received at the Attorney General’s office in response to the negative business practices of the Vancurens. One Arkansan described a June 2013 purchase of a Ford truck for which his sister co-signed. The consumer returned the truck to the lot six weeks after purchase because of mechanical issues. John Vancuren promised the consumer that his loan with Westlake had been paid off. Three years later, however, the consumer’s sister learned through a separate credit application that her credit report showed 24 months of late payments to Westlake for the truck. The Vancurens’ failure to pay off the transaction as promised resulted in a ruined credit history for the consumer and his sister, who has been unable to purchase a new car for her growing family.
A Spanish-speaking consumer purchased a Honda Civic from the Vancurens in August 2013. In September 2014, John Vancuren arranged to meet the consumer and her son, who spoke some English, at the dealership. Knowing that the consumer was not fluent in English, Vancuren took the consumer’s son inside and slipped out the back door to present the Spanish-speaking consumer with a document stating she “returned the car to the dealer instead of paying the balance on the car.” He told her if she would sign it, he would give her a $5,900 check for the equity in the car. The check never arrived, and the consumer was left without a car.
Victims of these business practices should contact the Attorney General’s office to file a consumer complaint at (800) 482-8982 or go to ArkansasAG.gov.