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State orders D&M Auto to refund consumers, pay fine
The state Department of Banking and Securities has ordered the owner of a former York Township preowned vehicle dealership to refund 194 consumers for overcharges and pay a $430,000 fine, according to a department news release.
The department began investigating D&M Auto Sales, formerly at 2873 E. Prospect St., after it was informed of a York Area Regional Police Department investigation of the business in August, according to the order.
The state department reviewed 196 installment loan files of Pennsylvania consumers as part of its investigation and found 194 consumers were overcharged due to violations, including excess fees, failure to accurately represent consumers' down payments and alteration of signature and amounts.
As a result of the violations, the DBS is ordering Dean M. Lake, owner of the dealership, to refund the consumers a total of more than $113,000. He will also be prohibited from engaging in the motor vehicle installment business for a period of no less than five years.
Lake, who could not be reached for comment, has 10 days to appeal the order filed on May 19.
Spokesman Ed Novak said the state department has yet to receive an appeal from Lake.
Lake has also been ordered to pay a $430,000 fine, according to the order, based on a section of the state Consumer Credit Code, which states that a licensed individual who is found to have committed violations "shall be subject to a civil penalty levied by the department of not more than $2,000 for each offense."
The fine must be paid within 30 days of the order, but the order provides no set deadline for the consumer refunds, Novak confirmed.
Consumers who believe they may have been unlawfully charged interest or fees by Lake can contact the state department’s Consumer Hotline at (800) 722-2657 or file a complaint online at www.dobs.pa.gov.
Police: The police department's investigation into the business, which included a search warrant served in September, is separate and still ongoing, Sgt. Pete Montgomery confirmed.
Montgomery previously said the detective in charge of the D&M Auto investigation was sifting through reports from "hundreds" of calls related to the company. On Wednesday, he said the detective was still having potential victims walk into his office.
The detective is trying to accumulate all complaints before filing charges, Montgomery said.
D&M Auto had remained open in York Township for more than a month following the initial investigation, but the company elected to shut down after the state Department of Transportation revoked the business' right to issue temporary titles, Montgomery said previously.
Alexis Campbell, a PennDOT spokeswoman, wrote in an email that "PennDOT's agreement with D&M Auto was terminated effective October 2015, as part of an ongoing investigation."
An official at Molt LLC, the owner of the building at the corner of East Prospect Road and Edgewood Road, said D&M Auto officially moved out on Dec. 31.