Kia dealership owner and employees convicted of auto loan fraud
Historically dealers have a bad reputation and Kia dealers are far from the exception. As recently in 2018, the brand’s resellers have been rated among the worst customer services in the market. And while it’s not all resellers, that’s enough to drive some buyers away. Unfortunately an Oklahoma dealer more than up to this bad reputation, aAutomotive News reports that the owner of a Kia dealership and his employees were recently convicted of auto loan fraud.
The leader of the fraud was Bobby Mayes, owner and CEO of the Big Red dealer group of Norman, Oklahoma. With the Kia Dealer in question, the group also has a second Kia dealer, a Yamaha and Mitsubishi store, and a used car store.
The scam: Mayes and two of his employees, Charles Gooch and Courtney Wells, used the dealership to target customers with low credit scores. Somehow, they got the finance companies to give auto loans to people who should never have been approved. The local newspaper of the region, Norman transcription, further specifies:
The indictment further alleges that the defendants made false representations and omissions to lenders about the type, source and amount of borrowers’ down payments or vehicle trades, and bribed at least one loan officer.
That’s not all. The uncleanliness of this trio continues with the creation of a shell company to also channel funds.
If a customer came in and didn’t have money for the down payment, the Kia dealership would direct them to their own pawnshop where they asked if the customer had anything they could pledge to get the money. Called Norman Pawn & Gun, it never had any actual employees and was never open to the public. But it belonged to Gooch and in a building owned by Mayes. Automotive news:
In 2015, Mayes and Gooch created what authorities described as a pawnshop known as Norman Pawn & Gun, according to prosecutors. The defendants asked Big Red Dealerships staff to ask customers if they had any items that could be pledged for a down payment. Gooch or other staff would “typically write an appraisal value of items that matched the amount needed to meet a lender’s cash down payment requirement,” the indictment reads. However, the lenders were told that the consumer had put money aside.
After the loans were approved by the lenders, the dealership cut a check to the customers (after forging their signatures of course), cut a check to the dealership, and then paid the pawnshop back. Mayes and Gooch were convicted on November 19 on 25 counts. Wells was only convicted of 19 of the charges. Wells plans to appeal, while Mayes shockingly maintains his innocence. “I am completely innocent of all of these accusations.”
While other dealers have faced charges of similar things, nothing have reached this level of fraudulant action. Approving someone for a loan that shouldn’t be approved and potentially worsening their financial situation is bad enough. But suggesting that they pledge items for a down payment and use their information for personal gain is a whole other level of bastard.