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Woodside car dealers hit with fines, suspension

JF Motors of Northern Blvd agrees to $375,000 settlement

Three used car dealerships in a one-mile span on Northern Boulevard in Woodside have been stripped of their license to operate for at least two years, and are facing civil penalties for over 10,000 violations of the City’s Consumer Protection Law.

The City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection announced a $375,000 settlement with the Queens-based dealerships, which includes $225,000 in total restitution for customers and payment towards the city of $150,000 in civil penalties.

All three dealershipsAutomania (4309 Northern Blvd.), Luxury Automotive Club (5511 Northern Blvd.) and World Auto (6107 Northern Blvd.), are run by JF Motors and are ordered to surrender their licenses, which prevents them from operating a used car dealership for at least two years.

DCWP charged the dealerships with deceptive advertising and falsely marketing some of their cars as “Certified Pre-owned”. Despite often marketing their cars as “Certified Pre-owned” by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, JF Motors did not conduct the required 125-point inspection, nor did they give buyers the promised 10-year/100,000 warranty or provide a vehicle history report, says DCWP.

JF Motors unlawful conduct includes the use of illegal contracts, the overcharging out-of-state buyers for bogus fees, and failing to provide documents to consumers in Spanish, even though the deal was negotiated in Spanish.

As part of the settlement, 16 consumers are getting restitution totaling $199,600, leaving just over $25,000 available for new complainants.

“When New Yorkers buy a used car, they expect to get a fair and honest deal,” DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga said. “With this settlement, we are delivering thousands of dollars in restitution for the victims of JF Motors and sending a clear message to the used car industry that DCWP will hold them accountable if they choose to deceive their customers.”

JF Motors could not be reached for comment, as their business phone number was recently disconnected.

The violations leveled against the dealerships go against some of the rules put in place by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs in 2018, put in place to combat predatory sales and financing practices in the used car industry. Since June 2018, used car dealerships in New York City are required to provide consumers with a Consumer Bill of Rights, a financing disclosure form, where applicable, and a cancellation option.

The settlement was handled by Senior Staff Counsel Bradley McCormick, under the supervision of Associate General Counsel Adem Blumenkratz of the General Counsel Division, which is led by Acting General Counsel Michael Tiger.

Mayor Eric Adams applauded the work of DCWP for delivering the settlement six months after the agency filed cases against the Queens-based dealerships.

“Preying on New Yorkers looking to buy a used car is not only unacceptable, it’s illegal,” Mayor Adams said.

DCWP currently licenses 505 used car dealerships and has received over 5,638 complaints about the industry over the past five years. In the same time frame, the agency has conducted nearly 3,000 inspections, issuing more than 1,156 violations, with a majority of them for failure to post required signs, parking or storing cars on the sidewalk, and missing price disclosures. DCWP has secured over $1.8 million in consumer restitution and over $4.6 million in fines against used car dealerships in the past five years.

“Protecting New York City consumers from scams and fraud is one of our most important responsibilities in government,” Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “I commend the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for holding these dealerships accountable for breaking the law and securing thousands in restitution for consumers.”

BHS Vintage Car Show a step back in time

The Bayside Historical Society held its annual Vintage Car Show this past Sunday. The lawn of the Castle at Fort Totten was transformed into a hub of diverse antique and vintage automobiles from throughout the last century.
Although some of the cars on display were originals, most of them were restored originals, a practice that requires a lot of passion, time and money.
Tom Lee, a car enthusiast who’s been involved with car shows for ten years, brought his 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air to the show. Lee purchased the car from a young man in Pennsylvania, who built it in his garage as a hobby.
“It was a wreck, he totally redid the whole thing,” he said. “It’s like a new car, but it’s still got some original elements like the old three-speed shift.”
Lee said he enjoys entering and attending car shows such as this one to see the different styles of vehicles, as well as to meet new like-minded people.
Queens Village resident Steve Ditullio brought his 1966 GTO convertible to Bayside, which he first finished in 2007. For him, these days car shows are more of a hobby and chance for social interaction, as opposed to years ago when he was more competitive.
“I’ll go to a car show, but not stick around for trophies,” he said. “I’ll say ‘hello’ to my friends and leave. But in the beginning, I got a bunch of trophies, especially for my ‘58 Harley that I had, which I actually plan to donate.”
Although restored, his GTO convertible is era correct as it has DMV-verified license plates from the model’s year, as well as a registration sticker in the back of the car where it used to be placed.
Ditullio described himself as a purist when it came to building this car, since he did everything he could to keep it original, but still made modern tweaks to make it safe.
He said his favorite thing about putting his cars on display is the nostalgia it evokes in the people who admire it.
“What I really love is there’s so many people who have come up to me and owned one of these cars in the past, and I bring them back to that time,’” he said. “I even start seeing people my age bringing their grandkids who become interested in it. So it’s nice to see that it’s not going to die out as quickly as I thought.”

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