CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - More customers have come forward to WBTV claiming they were victims of a fraudulent scheme at Kia of Gastonia. In May WBTV exposed allegations of irregular loan applications in which customers’ incomes, jobs and, in some cases, even the cars they bought were falsified.
More than 30 people have now contacted WBTV to say they were victims of the scheme. Nine people provided credit applications that show their incomes were falsified. Ten customers also filed formal complaints against the dealership with the North Carolina Department of Justice.
Chinnetta Brooks and Lena Petty bought a used 2015 Nissan Pathfinder from Kia of Gastonia in 2017 but months later it was repossessed.
“We were just looking for a cheap ride from Charlotte and back, nothing really expensive,” Brooks said.
But the deal ended up being a costly one.
Brooks provided WBTV a copy of her credit application she says Kia of Gastonia filled out to get her a loan. She says they put her income at more the $4,900 a month without her knowledge.
“I was barely getting $900 by then,” Brooks said.
The car was sold to her for nearly $49,000 with monthly payments of $652, but Petty said Kia of Gastonia promised them they could refinance it to a lower monthly rate.
"I took it to my bank and they said 'you're trapped in this. there's no way we can re-finance this, it's not re-financeable'," Petty said.
That's because the car they bought was not the car that was sold on paper. The credit application listed features the car didn't have so the actual value of their car was much less than what they bought it for.
The same thing happened to Lisa Sherrill. She bought a 2018 Kia from the dealership.
“Here it is a year later and I’m still making the $564 a month payment and it’s really starting to eat away at my money,” Sherrill said.
Sherrill said the sales people at the dealership promised her she could refinance. She also provided WBTV a copy of her credit application which showed her income was falsified.
"I'd say around $400 extra a month," Sherrill said.
WBTV reached out to the attorney for Kia of Gastonia owner Chris Hafer. He did not provide an on-the-record comment for the story.
WBTV also learned that Kia of Gastonia hired a third-party sales team called Integrity Automotive Solutions that was at the center of many of the questionable sales. The owner of Integrity Brian Leachman previously told WBTV that the finance team at Kia of Gastonia was responsible for finalizing any car sales and loan terms.