Prom­i­nent Sacra­mento car dealer Blanco ac­cused of fraud

Lodi News-Sentinel - - PAGE TWO - By Sam Stan­ton and Dar­rell Smith

Sacra­mento auto dealer Paul Blanco, who has touted his in­volve­ment in mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties statewide, was sued Mon­day by state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra for al­legedly prey­ing on vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers with false ad­ver­tis­ing, phony credit state­ments and prod­ucts such as ser­vice con­tracts that added thou­sands of dol­lars to pur­chase prices.

The law­suit, filed in Alameda Su­pe­rior Court, ac­cuses Paul Blanco’s Good Car Co. of de­ceiv­ing buy­ers and lenders in their pur­chases of cars and trucks, in­clud­ing in­stances where ser­vice con­tracts and other add-on prod­ucts were hid­den in pur­chase pa­per­work by Blanco work­ers “some­times lit­er­ally by cov­er­ing them up with their hands,” Be­cerra said at a news con­fer­ence in Sacra­mento.

“We have no idea at the end of the day how many peo­ple have been de­frauded, how many peo­ple have been de­ceived,” Be­cerra said.

The Sacra­mento deal­er­ship re­ferred calls for com­ment to Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Putu Blanco, Paul Blanco’s wife, who is­sued a state­ment deny­ing the al­le­ga­tions and vow­ing to fight the law­suit.

“Our fam­ily-run busi­ness has helped hard-work­ing Cal­i­for­ni­ans who can­not af­ford or don’t have the credit score nec­es­sary to buy a car at other deal­er­ships do so,” she said. “Paul Blanco’s Good Car Com­pany has rig­or­ous con­trols and a cul­ture of com­pli­ance in place to en­sure California reg­u­la­tions are fol­lowed and con­sumers are pro­tected.

“We will fight this mis­guided ac­tion vig­or­ously to de­mon­strate to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and his lawyers that our cus­tomers and California con­sumers come first.”

The com­pany’s state­ment ac­cused Be­cerra’s of­fice of fo­cus­ing on “tech­ni­cal­i­ties,” such as “stat­ing in ra­dio ads that ‘ev­ery­one can get fi­nanc­ing,’ when in fact, not every sin­gle con­sumer can be fi­nanced.”

“The ac­tion also re­lies on very old ad­ver­tis­ing that has not been in place for years,” the com­pany said.

Be­cerra’s of­fice said the com­pany sells about 1,200 mostly used ve­hi­cles a month and that an un­told num­ber of buy­ers were de­ceived by false ad­ver­tis­ing or had their credit wor­thi­ness in­flated on loan ap­pli­ca­tions to fool lenders into pro­vid­ing money needed for a pur­chase.

“The prac­tice of fraud­u­lently in­flat­ing in­come was so com­mon that de­fen­dants’ per­son­nel even de­vel­oped associated slang,” the law­suit says. “For ex­am­ple, ‘pack­ing in­come’ meant falsely in­creas­ing a customer’s re­ported in­come on a credit ap­pli­ca­tion, and pack­ing in­come ‘by a nickel’ meant in­creas­ing a customer’s in­come by $500.”

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