Proposed Bill Protects Military From Auto Scams

A new bill being debated in Congress this week would help protect military personnel from unscrupulous automotive dealers.

The proposed new consumer financial protection bureau would include closer monitoring of auto scams involving military personnel.

In December, Navy Airman Jarred Whited wanted to buy a 2006 Hyundai Sonata he visited a used car dealership in South Bay. Whited’s wife, Lacie Riso Whited, said they jumped at the sales pitch at the dealership.

“They say we can get you financing,” she said. “Let’s get you in a car, we’ll make your dreams come true.”

The couple traded in their 2000 Ford Focus and bought the Hyundai Sonata for $11,000.

“We thought the deal was done,” said . “We thought we had a car.”

But weeks after leaving with the car, the Whiteds were told there were issues with their paperwork and questioned their first payment.

According to the couple, even though records show the payment was withdrawn from Jarred Whited’s paycheck, the Sonata was repossessed.

Lacie Whited said the dealership offered them $800 to buy back into the original contract.

“It just disgusts me. The military is out there securing our freedom and yet people look at them as targets for fraud,” she said.

Ellen Turnage, the couple’s attorney, called the ploy a yo-yo scam.

She said it began when the dealer tells the buyer the financing is falling through.

“They pull you back in and say we can really get you in this car but we need a new contract,” said Turnage.

According to a recent survey, 72 percent of military financial counselors have recently dealt with auto abuse lending abuses.

The abuses often include threats of repossession, which dealers know can endanger security clearance.

“Many are young, out on their own for the first with a consistent paycheck and the dealers know this,” said Turnage.

The Whiteds lost the Sonata and the dealership has kept their old car.

The couple would not name the dealership because they’ve filed a lawsuit and are in settlement talks.