Posted in: Cars,
by Gregg Laskoski on Apr 19, 2013 05:00 AM
In Michigan dozens of consumers were the victims of phony sales of vehicle insurance policies at a Detroit-area car dealership, according to state regulators.
The Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) issued a cease-and-desist order last week to Camillo Anthony Monaco and Darrell Lees of Monaco Motors. According to the department, consumers bought cars after being told that the purchase would be “in conjunction with” no-fault insurance for the new vehicle while the dealership, Monaco and Lees were all unlicensed to conduct such business.
According to Charles Nguyen reporting for onlineautoinsurance.com, paperwork dated between Oct. 11, 2012, and Jan. 3, 2013, showed that at least 15 consumers bought cars from the dealership that listed GEICO as the insurer providing their no-fault policies, according to the DIFS. Apparently, they all thought they could get a good insurance deal providing they paid --cash only--- to Tony. (Does this sound like an episode from The Sopranos?)
As always, the devil is in the details. The paperwork which was submitted to Michigan’s Secretary of State contained several inconsistencies pointing to the dealership as the purchaser of the policies. Thirteen of the 15 policies for those consumers were bought online from the same IP address, according to investigators, with 10 of those 13 listing the same email address and four of those 10 using the same credit card.
Also, 12 of the policy applications listed the fax number investigators confirmed to be the fax number at Monaco Motors.
Fifteen other consumers bought cars from Monaco Motors between Sept. 21, 2012, and Jan. 23, 2013, with those vehicles listed with no-fault policies from Progressive. Nine of those 15 Progressive policies were bought online with the same credit card, though all were cancelled later because of credit card fraud, according to the DIFS.
According to audio from Progressive’s Special Investigations Unit case on Monaco Motors, DIFS said, a consumer told an investigator that he paid “Tony” at the dealership $700 in cash for a car with the promise that “Monaco Motors would get insurance for him.”
According to the DIFS, any person or agency selling valid car coverage is required to display their license to sell auto coverage in Michigan, and consumers should ask for it whenever they conduct business. Numbers and names on that license can be cross-referenced at the department’s website.
Obviously, it's not just a problem that's unique to Michigan. If it's legitimate, nobody is going to insist on selling you an insurance policy under the condition of 'cash only'. And most importantly, be sure you're buying insurance from someone who is actually licensed to sell it.
DIFS Director Kevin Clinton said in a statement that consumers who purchased the faulty insurance should contact his office at (877) 999-6442 if they have any questions regarding whether their insurance is properly licensed.