By on September 20, 2012

Two high-volume Suzuki dealerships in South Carolina are at the center of a federal fraud case, as a dealer and Suzuki district manager are among those indicted on three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Paul M. Gibson, who operated two Suzuki dealers in South Carolina, as well as Brian J. Sullivan, the Suzuki district manager responsible for Gibson’s stores and 8 other defendants, were indicted. The charges center on claims of false advertising and fraudulent loan documents.

Automotive News reports that 

“Ads promised, among other things, that customers could drive a new Suzuki “for life” for payments of $99 per month or less, according to the indictment. Other ads said that customers could have a new car for six, nine or 12 months for minimal payments, trade in the car after a set term, “and obtain a new car at no cost,” the indictment alleged.

“…dealerships advertised low monthly payments, while staffers told customers that Suzuki would provide the dealership with funds to pay, on behalf of the customers, the difference between the higher monthly payments listed on retail installment sales contracts and the low promotional rates customers agreed to pay. 

Customers who attempted to trade their vehicles in after the stated time period would attempt to do so only to find out that they couldn’t obtain a new car under the previously promised terms. The indictment also alleges that the dealership and its employees falsified loan documents, while telling customers to ignore the doctored papers

“…the contracts listed vehicle values far in excess of the market values of the cars in question. When customers asked about the inflated values and corresponding high monthly payments, the defendants told the customers to “totally disregard any of the numbers on the contracts because they would never be obligated to pay anything more than the agreed, low monthly promotional amounts,” the indictment said.”

Should the defendants be found guilty, they could each face a maximum of 60 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.


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14 Comments on “Suzuki Dealer, District Manager, Indicted For Fraud...”

  • avatar

    “high-volume Suzuki dealerships”


  • avatar

    Actually, at the time the two stealerships, one in Gaffney and the other in Spartanburg, did move a lot of metal with these ads. I thought at the time that I heard these ads there was no way they were legitimate, but obviously lots of others bit, assuming they couldn’t say it if it weren’t true. Come to think of it, that might have been part of their tagline. I can’t remember for sure, since there’s a Kia dealership in Charlotte that uses something like that.

    But they’ve been out of business for several years, so not sure they could do it today. In fact, in the area, the Greenville Suzuki dealership closed. One in Greer, between Greenville and Spartanburg, opened not too long ago, but has since closed, too. Best I know, the dealer who took up the franchise in Spartanburg is still there, though most of their volume is GM; Suzuki gets a small lot to the side at the bottom of a hill. A dealer in Easley (sort of between Greenville and Anderson) that has a Mitsu store there (as well as another Mitsu store in Anderson) just opened a Suzuki store. I guess if they can keep two Mitsubishi stores going, they know what it takes to move Suzukis.

  • avatar

    “Suzuki Dealer, District Manager, Indicted For Fraud”

    That sounds about right.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The greedy and unethical preying on the desperate. A sad indicator of our times. The trial should be a Darwinian cesspool with displays of avarice and stupidity.

    • 0 avatar

      “A sad indicator of our times.”???

      One of the great things about this internet type thing is that information about crooks gets out much quicker and more far geographically reaching than ever before.

      That said you probably never ever heard of “Bill Heard: Mr Big Volume” who had one of the most systemically crooked dealership chains until the business finally tanked 2008.

      Best one they pulled was stealing a truck back from a customer in Nashville TN who got TOO good of a deal from them…

  • avatar

    I lived in Spartanburg, SC from 2002 – 2006, and I remember those ads. I even remember a lady saying “I LOVE YOU JOE!”, referring to Joe Gibson Suzuki.

    People in the South are incredibly naive. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did.

  • avatar

    @ Rick T. – Apples and oranges, my friend. Bernie Madoff’s scheme wasn’t exactly transparent to the point where you’d know what’s going on. Joe Gibson’s scheme was well known in the area, but people were too stupid to know any better.

    @ Toad – If you think I believe that people are only naive in the South, then you are mistaken. I’ve lived in many places throughout the world from the US to the Middle East. From living in the South, the idiocy is a bit amplified.

  • avatar

    So, you’re saying American Suzuki may have at least one opening for district manager? So, there may be a chance I’ll get a call back on that application?

  • avatar

    Well, they had to sell cars and make money somehow, and they sell Suzukis… I guess they’re getting desperate.

  • avatar

    A Suzuki dealer in the Kansas City market used that promotion a few years ago. He moved a lot of iron until the customers found out there ain’t no Santa Claus and went to the AG.

  • avatar

    This article reminded me of soo many customer complaints I received when I was a customer relations rep for Suzuki. I am not surprised at all to hear this as at one point we received at least a few calls per day for several months. I’m glad to hear they are going to pay the price for all the trouble they caused

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