(DAVENPORT) Attorney General Tom Miller today announced that his office and the Iowa DOT have reached an agreement with a Scott County auto business to cease operations in the state and pay a $20,000 civil penalty. Under a Consent Judgment and Order issued Monday by the Scott County District Court, consumers who still owe money on cars purchased from the defendants in Iowa will be given title to their cars with any balance due forgiven.
The action is a result of a joint lawsuit filed last year by the Iowa Department of Transportation and Miller's office. The lawsuit alleged that Aardvark Auto Service & Sales, several other related used-car dealerships and their principals – including Bruce Duque, Francisco Duque and Tina Duque – committed consumer fraud and numerous other violations in the advertising, sale and service of used cars and the extension of credit for the purchase of used cars.
Miller said that over one hundred consumers who had purchased cars from the defendants and still owe money on those cars will be given title to their cars and any balance owed will be forgiven. He said his office plans to contact these consumers with information about the settlement and court order.
The agreement and order filed Monday also prohibits the defendants for the next four years from conducting any business in connection with motor vehicles in Iowa including selling, buying, leasing or repairing vehicles.
“We alleged that the defendants targeted vulnerable, lower-income consumers with poor credit or no credit histories by promising them reliable and safe transportation at low prices and pay-offs within a year,” said Attorney General Tom Miller.
“In reality, the customers often made substantial payments to the defendants, only to end up without a working car, either because the consumers could not afford the car in the first place, or because the car broke down and was unlawfully repossessed by the defendants.”
The Iowa DOT revoked Aardvark Auto’s motor vehicle license effective September 18, 2006, but the state alleged that Aardvark violated the Motor Vehicle Dealers Code by continuing to sell cars at the lot located at 802 W. 2nd Street in Davenport. The DOT alleged that the defendants also violated Iowa’s Motor Vehicle Code by falsifying the date of sale of vehicles. The joint DOT/AG lawsuit is the result of substantial investigative work on the part of the DOT's Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement and legal work by the AG's Office.
The defendants have been out of business in the State of Iowa since January 2007, when Scott County District Court Judge J. Hobart Darbyshire entered a temporary injunction prohibiting the defendants from “engaging in the deceptive, misleading and unfair practices” alleged in the lawsuit. The order filed Monday makes final many of the provisions of that injunction and also provides civil penalties and consumer restitution.
Defendants named in the lawsuit are: Bruce Ruben Duque, Tina R. Duque, Francisco J. Duque, Jr. (father of Bruce), Esperanza Duque (mother of Bruce). The defendants did business as Aardvark Auto Service & Sales, State Street Car Company, The Motorhaus, Auto Kings, UBA Auto Repair and/or URA Auto Repair, and The Car Boys (a used car lot located in Moline.)