CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The FBI raided a West Ashley car dealership last week in search of evidence connected to employees who allegedly fabricated old car sales and lending paperwork for customers in order to entice banks to finance new car sales.
According to an affidavit, a group of employees at Hoover Mitsubishi on Savannah Highway in West Ashley listed non-existent trade-in cars and down payments in the sales paperwork given to various lending institutions in an attempt to help customers who had poor credit scores or no credit at all.
By stating there was a trade-in, the customer would have a more favorable interest rate on a car loan, the affidavit stated. On average, the customer’s interest rate would be lowered five percent by allowing Hoover Mitsubishi to increase their profit with the company keeping two to three percent of the interest rate savings, according to the affidavit.
The loan paperwork was fabricated on sales computers and signed off on by dealership owner Mark Hoover, according to the affidavit.
In another alleged scheme, an employee would manipulate customer pay stubs to inflate a customer’s income. The affidavit stated that the employee was able to mislead lending institutions by listing the manufacturer’s rebate as a customer’s down payment.
According to an affidavit, a witness told FBI agents that he paid another employee to fabricate fake proof of residency forms for potential customers and added that he paid an employee $20 for a fabricated SCE&G bill to show that a customer lived in the same house as a co-signer. In turn, a customer would have a better chance at receiving a loan if the house was shared.
One witness in the affidavit stated that the dealership typically sold 50 to 60 cars per month with approximately 30 involved in the fraud schemes.
According to court documents, the FBI took more than 50 boxes of paperwork from car sale deals between 2013 and 2018. Agents also seized six desktop computers.
While the case is still pending in court, no arrests have been made.
The investigation is only connected to this Hoover dealership and not any others under the Hoover name.
Mark Hoover issued a statement on the raid Wednesday afternoon:
“Hoover Mitsubishi learned of some irregularities and inconsistencies in some of our contracts in July 2018. Based on the information available at the time we immediately terminated the responsible employees and have not experienced similar problems since their termination.
“Hoover Mitsubishi has been cooperating with the investigation and will continue to do so. It would be inappropriate for us to discuss the matter any further since it’s an active, ongoing investigation."