When you’re in the market for a new vehicle, and you happen to stumble upon a car that is the right price, you may feel like the automobile gods are smiling down on you and granting you what you need. When you get to the dealership and are told that the vehicle you wanted is gone, you’re crushed. You really thought this car was the one.

Fortunately for you, the car salesman has an even better car; one that is newer, safer, and has more of the features you want. The only downside to this purchase is that it’s about five thousand dollars more than you wanted to spend.  Don't let your emotions overpower your brain - car dealers use your emotions to sometimes sell you a car.  Many people wake up a few days later and wish they had not bought the car.

Are You the Victim of Auto Fraud?

What you just experienced is known as the bait-and-switch tactic. Advertisers “bait” unsuspecting consumers with deals that are too good to be true to lure them inside their dealerships. Once the potential buyers are there, the item in question just so happens to be gone but another, more expensive item, also known as the “switch,” is there to take its place. Although this is definitely dishonest, and dealers use the bait-and-switch tactic in a variety of ways, it isn’t always fraud. To be considered fraud, the consumer has to have proof that the fraud was completely intentional and part of a larger selling scheme. Here, we look at a few examples:

  • The supply amount isn’t mentioned. The seller must make the consumer aware that quantities are limited at that price. If not, and the item is sold out, the seller could be held accountable for auto fraud.
  • The bait didn’t exist. If the seller never had access to the “bait,” but continues to advertise it with the sole intention of pushing consumers to buy other vehicles, he may be guilty of fraud.

Don’t Let Them Get Away With It!

If you believe you were the victim of auto fraud, the Consumer Law Group may be able to help. Speak to a legal professional about your case by calling 804-282-7900 and find out what we can do.


John Cole Gayle, Jr.
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Consumer Law Pioneer and Co-Author of Virginia's Lemon Law