AG Moody subpoenas car dealers after Local 10 investigation into illegal fees

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has subpoenaed several South Florida car dealerships after Local 10 Investigates exposed a number of dealers charging illegal fees to customers buying out their leases.

Moody said our stories on the illegal practice sparked the state’s investigation.

The subpoenas went out last week.

The state’s investigation involves unfair and deceptive trade practices. Moody’s office issued subpoenas to Gunther Volkswagen in Fort Lauderdale, Homestead Hyundai, Lexus of Clearwater, Toyota Motor Credit, VW Credit and Hyundai Capital.

“We look at deceptive and unfair trade practices and whether that meets the elements of Florida statutes on the civil side of things,” Moody said. “Our lawyers are looking at that.”

As we reported, Gunther was forcing their lease buyout customers to certify and/or inspect vehicles before they would facilitate the buyout—that added fees to the cost of the buyout on top of dealer fees—and they weren’t the only ones in South Florida.

Gunther subpoena:

The Consumer Leasing Act of 1976, a federal law, says a business can’t charge backend fees that aren’t disclosed in the original lease.

Moody’s office has been consulting with other state and federal entities that regulate the auto industry.

“It may not be something only our agency looks at, it could be other financial agencies,” Moody said. “But we are, and we have been.”

Moody’s office has a list of demands for the companies involved: Among other things, all leasing policies, contracts dating back to 2018, arbitration and lawsuit settlements, refund requests and communications with finance companies.

The office is also looking into whether state statutes need to be changed in order to protect consumers buying out their leases. Local 10 News has already put the issue on the radar of state lawmakers.

If you think you’ve been charged illegal lease buyout fees, contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office fraud hotline at 866-966-7226 or visit its website.

Additional subpoenas:

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About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.