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CUOMO OBTAINS ORDER REQUIRING RESTITUTION FOR CUSTOMERS OF L. I. AUTO TRANSPORT BROKER THAT FAILED TO DELIVER VEHICLES
Bayville broker failed to follow through on deliveries of hundreds of vehicles, threatened dissatisfied customers with lawsuits and refused refunds to keep them from filing complaints
~ Cuomo's order secures $110k in restitution, $65k in penalties/costs, shuts down business unless $200k performance bond is paid
MINEOLA, N. Y. (February 16, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his office has obtained a court order and judgment against a Bayville-based auto transport broker that defrauded more than 400 consumers by failing to ship vehicles to various locations.
Attorney General Cuomo's office found that A Eastern Connection, Inc., A-Blue Knight Auto Carrier, Inc., Autotrail Transporters Co., Inc. and V&C Warehousing and Distribution, Inc., owned and operated by Marguerite Cermola and Gregory Sclafani from Bayville Avenue in Bayville, repeatedly failed or unreasonably delayed delivery of vehicles to customers who paid between $600 and $1,000 for the service.
The consent order and judgment requires Cermola and Sclafani to pay $60,000 in restitution and $65,000 in penalties and costs to the state. The owners must also set aside an additional $50,000 for restitution for consumers who may come forward in the future. The order obtained by Cuomo protects consumers by barring the company and its owners from the auto transport business until it posts a $200,000 performance bond.
“Hundreds of consumers entrusted their vehicles to this company for safe transport, but the business repeatedly delivered little more than fraud and deception,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office will continue to hold companies accountable for dishonest business practices.”
A Eastern Connection, A-Blue Knight Auto Carrier, Autotrail Transporters and V&C Warehousing and Distribution arranged for customers' automobiles to be shipped throughout the U.S. Unlike truckers who haul automobiles with their own equipment, brokers “match up” the customer's requested date and route with available trucking firms. The companies falsely claimed “door-to-door” service and touted its reputation as being reliable, professional and safe.
However, customer complaints contend that Cermola's and Sclafani's companies engaged in multiple fraudulent acts that led to vehicles not being delivered as promised, including failing to pay haulers, resulting in carriers refusing to release cars to customers and failing to inform customers that timely pickup and delivery of vehicle was based on availability of haulers. In many instances, the business debited customer accounts multiple times for the same service and failed to return the money. Furthermore, Cuomo's office found that the business attempted to keep dissatisfied consumers from filing complaints by threatening lawsuits against and refusing to issue refunds to the customers.
Consumers who believe they were defrauded by A Eastern Connection, A-Blue Knight Auto Carrier, Autotrail Transporters or V&C Warehousing and Distribution have until March 30 to file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office in order to be considered for restitution. Consumers are encouraged to contact the Attorney General Cuomo's Nassau Regional Office at 516-248-3302 or his Suffolk Regional Office at 631-231-2401.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Nassau Regional Office Valerie Singleton under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs J. David Sampson. Senior Investigator Paul Matthews and Special Investigator Bernard Iacampo from the U.S. Department of Transportation assisted in the case.