A Bayside car dealership that allegedly engaged in deceptive businesses practices targeting Chinese-speaking customers has been ordered by a Queens judge to pay restitution to at least 21 people, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced on Tuesday.
Star Toyota of Bayside, located at 205-11 Northern Blvd., allegedly targeted Chinese-speaking customers inside Chinese-language publications, inviting them to come speak with the dealership’s Chinese-speaking sales team, according to James. After negotiating a price with the Chinese-speaking staff, the customer would passed off to an English-speaking staff member, who would give the customer a contract with a higher than agreed upon price, the AG said.
To further the scam, the sales representatives would allegedly add items, including unwanted warranties, service contracts and theft insurance, to the contract, according to the authorities. Additionally, Star Toyota of Bayside often didn’t give customers copies of the contracts.
The car dealership also would submit inflated or fabricated personal financial information to its lenders to secure loans that the customers struggled to pay, according to James.
After purchasing cars, Chinese-speaking customers who were unfamiliar with the business of buying a car were told by sales staff that they should give a cash tip.
“Stealing from our immigrant communities by taking advantage of language barriers is not only illegal, but downright shameful,” James said. “New York values its immigrant communities, and we will not stand idly by while they are targeted. I look forward to returning hard-earned money back into the pockets of consumers, and I am proud to be able to fight for the rights of all New Yorkers.”
Star Toyota of Bayside resolved the allegations against them by agreeing to pay $100,000 in civil penalties to the state of New York and $186,855 in restitution to 21 of their customers.
A 90-day window has also been opened for additional customers to come forward and claim restitution.
Any customer who believes they might have been deceived by Star Toyota from Jan. 1, 2014, to March 1, 2018, is encouraged to file a complaint here, or by calling 800-771-7755.
Representatives of Star Toyota in Bayside did not respond to request for comment.