Lawsuit filed against Kia of Gastonia claims employees ‘condoned customers inflation of their income’

Updated: Jun. 25, 2019 at 4:18 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A lawsuit filed against Kia of Gastonia by a financing company claims that employees at the dealership “actively encouraged and condoned its customers inflation of their income.”

For months WBTV has uncovered allegations from Kia of Gastonia customers that their income was inflated on their credit applications without their knowledge. Many of those customers had their cars repossessed, their credit damaged and found it difficult to purchase a new vehicle.

In July 2018 Grow Financial Credit Union filed a lawsuit against Grass Roots Associates, Inc, which operates business under the name Kia of Gastonia. The lawsuit was settled in April 2019 but the terms were not made public.

In the complaint Grow identified nine different customers whose monthly income was inflated. The customers also claimed the dealership promised their monthly payments could be refinanced in six months or more. The lawsuit claims one customer’s loan application indicated their income was $5,981/month but the customer told the credit union it was actually $952/month.

WBTV has heard from 40 people who claim that Kia of Gastonia falsified their income information in order to get a loan approved. 11 individuals have provided copies of their credit application proving their income was falsified.

Grow claims in the lawsuit all of this happened between November 15, 2017 and January 19 2018 and that Kia of Gastonia “purposefully inflated its customers’ income and/or other information on the loan documents for the purpose of inducing grow financial to acquire loans that otherwise would not qualify.”

In addition to the lawsuit, Grow Financial filed a criminal complaint with the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. WBTV confirmed the DMV investigated and turned over its findings to the Gaston County District Attorney.

WBTV reached out numerous times to Gaston County DA Locke Bell but never received a call back.

The North Carolina Attorney General’s Office told WBTV it is investigating consumer complaints into Kia of Gastonia.

The Federal Trade Commission and US Attorney’s Office had no comment on whether they were investigating. The FTC has confirmed through a records requests that they have received complaints regarding Kia of Gastonia.

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