Secretary of State Ruth Johnson suspends five Detroit auto dealers

Stamp out fraudMAY 28, 2015

Move comes after investigation found trafficking in stolen vehicles, parts

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced that she has summarily suspended the licenses of five Detroit used-vehicle dealers after her office identified and investigated a web of suspicious auto transactions.

Secretary of State staff also are cooperating with area law enforcement agencies, including the Detroit Police Commercial Auto Theft Section, to prosecute criminal cases against those involved in allegedly trafficking in stolen vehicles and auto parts. The comprehensive investigation continues and could result in additional licensing action and criminal charges against other individuals involved.

“Most auto dealers are reputable business people, but if we discover illegal activity, we will take swift action to protect Michigan consumers,” Johnson said. “We will not tolerate businesses that take advantage of unsuspecting consumers and will hold these bad actors accountable.”

The investigation and resulting suspensions are part of Johnson’s ongoing efforts to crack down on fraudulent activity that victimizes Michigan residents.

The Detroit dealerships were suspended effective today. The summary suspension, a step not often taken against dealerships, is used to protect the public. The dealers are entitled to an administrative hearing to contest the suspension, but until then they are closed for business. The dealers involved are:

  • Hende Auto Parts, a used-vehicle and used-vehicle parts dealer, 9201 Freeland St., licensed since 2012
  • Best Price Auto Sale, Inc., a used-vehicle dealer, 8594 Greenfield Road, licensed since 2014
  • Sold Auto Sale, Inc., a used-vehicle dealer, 18920 W. Warren Ave., licensed since 2011
  • Big 3 Auto Sales, Inc., a used-vehicle and used-vehicle parts dealer, 13155 Plymouth Road, licensed since 2011
  • A One Auto Sales, Inc., a used-vehicle dealer, 19424 W. Warren Ave., licensed since 2013

Johnson commended her newly formed Office of Investigative Services for using new transaction analysis methods to identify suspicious activity, and then working with law enforcement to investigate and take action.

“This is a great example of our partnership with law enforcement and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office,” said Al Kimichik, director of the Office of Investigative Services.

The investigation found that the dealerships committed multiple fraudulent acts in connection with dealing in vehicles as well as numerous record-keeping violations. In particular, the licensee of Hende Auto Parts was arrested by Detroit police during their investigation of Best Price Auto, where a recent search by police resulted in the seizure of more than 30 vehicles and the discovery of stolen auto parts. Criminal charges are pending against people associated with both dealerships for possession of stolen vehicles and parts.

Hende employees also are under investigation for fraudulently obtaining or attempting to obtain clear Michigan titles for salvage vehicles. An improperly inspected and titled rebuilt vehicle could be unsafe to drive and would be fraudulently offered to a consumer as a vehicle that hasn’t had major components replaced.

As secretary of state, Johnson has made it a priority to crack down on fraud and the negative impact it has on the people of Michigan. She announced an anti-fraud effort late last year that uses cutting-edge technology, expands best practices and maximizes resources to fight fraud. The new measures include:

  • A comprehensive review of the department’s processes, technology and structure to determine how best to detect and deter fraud.
  • Establishing the Office of Investigative Services to bring together all investigative and enforcement services within the Secretary of State’s Office into one unified operation.
  • Data analysis to identify signs in transactions that may indicate fraud.
  • Expanding the verification of the thousands of insurance certificates the department receives from customers daily.

Consumers who have a complaint against any of the suspended dealers are encouraged to call the Department of State Information Center at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).

For more information about dealership licensing and how to file a complaint against a dealer, visit www.Michigan.gov/sos.

Johnson offers Michigan residents these tips for successfully buying a vehicle.

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For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau at 517-373-2520.