Calgary

Calgary used-car dealer, owner and associates face 44 charges, including fraud

The Gallery of Fine Cars — a major used-car dealer in Calgary — as well as its owner and several representatives are facing 44 charges in relation to defrauding and misleading customers, and selling vehicles without proper inspection and paperwork, according to court documents obtained by CBC News.

Former employees allege customers misled with dodgy tactics; business owner calls them 'false accusations'

A major used-car dealer in Calgary, Gallery of Fine Cars, as well as its owner and several other representatives face 44 charges in relation to defrauding and misleading customers, and selling vehicles without proper inspection and paperwork, according to court documents obtained by CBC News. (Falice Chin/CBC)

The Gallery of Fine Cars — a major used-car dealer in Calgary — as well as its owner and several representatives face 44 charges in relation to defrauding and misleading customers, and selling vehicles without proper inspection and paperwork, according to court documents obtained by CBC News.

Five of the 44 charges are criminal, the rest fall under Alberta's Fair Trading Act and Traffic Safety Act.

Most of the charges — laid from June 2015 through October of this year — stem from five investigations into consumer complaints by the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC), the agency responsible for regulating used-car dealerships in the province.

Charges include fraud, misrepresentation

In two of the cases, the Gallery of Fine Cars, owner Adriano Aprile and his associates are accused of defrauding customers out of tens of thousands of dollars through "deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means."

According to the court documents, customers were led to believe the vehicles were local when they were from another province and/or accident-free when there were previous damages, among other misrepresentations.

The first incident allegedly happened in 2014 and the second in 2015.

Allegations from the other cases include, among others:

  • Misleading and deceiving customers.
  • Misrepresenting goods.
  • Making false claims.
  • Selling vehicles without out-of-province inspections.
  • Selling vehicles without mechanical fitness assessment reports.
  • Selling vehicle without an automotive sale licence.
Most of the charges stem from 5 investigations into consumer complaints by the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC), the agency responsible for regulating used-car dealerships in the province. (Falice Chin/CBC)

'It's so very wrong': former employees come forward

Two former employees have come forward with allegations about the company's sales tactics, saying they were asked to complete tasks that simply felt wrong.

CBC News has agreed not to reveal their identities because they have signed non-disclosure agreements with the dealership.

"If a customer asks, you can't really say no," said a former sales associate about the provision of car history reports.

"But if a customer does not ask for it and he signed your bill of sale, I'm not forced to show them at all. It's so very wrong the majority of the time they just take your word for it," he said.

Business owner Aprile had said in a previous interview that his company provides a CarProof report for all its customers. He disputed several claims from customers who alleged they never received one.

The former employee said many of his customers were immigrants, people with bad credit and individuals who obviously couldn't afford the financing.

He recalled several instances when he pulled customers aside to warn them about a deal.

"Some of the times I just had to tell them, 'This is not going to work out for you,'" he said.

"I tell the customers, 'Don't tell [my boss] this, but I'm telling you out of good faith' ... because morally for me, it's very wrong."

Another former employee said the dealership once sold a vehicle to a homeless person.

'I got sick and tired of having to lie'

The second former employee, who once worked at the reception at the Gallery of Fine Cars, said the company posted advertisements online of vehicles that were no longer in its showroom.

"For actually about a month, maybe even a little bit longer there was a couple of vehicles, more specifically a 2009 Honda Civic — it was white," she recalled.

"Multiple, multiple calls asking if it was still available. I knew very well that it had been sold for at least a month, saying, 'Yes it's here, come on in,' where eventually I got sick and tired of having to lie to these people."

The former sales associate said he was told to come up with excuses when customers find out the vehicles they wanted had already been sold.

"My only excuse was that it got sold within the last hour or last day and it just takes a little while for our tech guys to take it down from the internet," he said.

AMVIC issued a penalty against the Gallery of Fine Cars in July for a host of advertisement violations. The dealer is currently in the process of appealing the penalty.

'Those are all false accusations'

Aprile said none of the allegations from his former employees are true.

"All those sound false to me," he said.

"Those are all false accusations and that's all I have to say about those."

Two other charges on obstruction of peace officers have been stayed.

The Gallery of Fine Cars had no further comments on the 44 charges currently before the courts.


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About the Author

Falice Chin

CBC Edmonton

Falice is an award-winning producer who's been working for CBC since 2006, including with the Calgary Eyeopener and now as senior producer of Edmonton AM. Her career has taken her across Canada and the Middle East. Falice grew up in China and has lived in 10 cities around the world. You can reach her at: falice.chin@cbc.ca

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