PHOENIX — A Flagstaff family wants answers after paying $8,000 for a car only to later find out it had a $7,000 lien.
The SUV now sits in their driveway and the dealership where it was bought said it is not their fault.
“I drive a lot," said Ashley Lewis.
Ashley Lewis has two kids and a big family so she started searching online for a bigger car to match. She said she saw a Facebook advertisement for a Suburban being sold for $8,000 at a small dealer in Phoenix called Coyote Auto Credit near 27th Avenue and Osborn Road.
She and her parents decided to make the drive from Flagstaff to buy it.
"He printed out documents from the dealership"
“We met on the grounds of the dealership. We went inside the dealership’s office. He printed out documents from the dealership from the desk of the computer," described Katie Fritzsche, Lewis' mom.
"The documents, did those look legitimate? Like they were through the dealership as well?” asked 12News reporter Bianca Buono.
“Yes, it's even in an envelope from the dealership," Lewis said as she held up the envelope.
The salesman was a man named Oscar Santos Rojero Tolentino. He was also the owner of the Suburban which records show he had purchased from Coyote Auto Credit in November of 2021.
Oscar said he would mail Lewis the title for the vehicle the following day so they could get back to Flagstaff. He gave them their temporary registration, a bill of sale, and they left in their new car.
The problem? The title never came so they went to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division.
“And the DMV tells them, there's a lien on this vehicle," Fritzsche said.
It was a $7,000 lien.
They immediately called Coyote Auto Credit and talked to the owner, Martin Corrales.
“I said, 'At this point, please just you can give us our $8,000 back and we'll give you the car? Or just pay off the lien.' And he's like, 'No, this is not my problem,'” Fritzsche said.
Corrales said Oscar was not an employee and claimed Oscar stole a sales contract from the dealership. He said the entire transaction was fraudulent.
“He wasn’t working with me," Corrales told 12News over the phone. ”He was using my name; he was using my address too.”
“But doesn't the dealership bear some responsibility for what happens on your property?” Buono asked.
“No, he wasn't. He's not working with me. He made everything wrong. You know, he was using my dealer's company name," Corrales said. "That is illegal. It’s why I made a report with the police.”
After speaking with Corrales, Phoenix police confirmed to 12News they did receive a report from him, however it was closed because Corrales said he did not want Oscar to be prosecuted.
“So at this point there's no plan for your dealership to pay Ashley back?” Buono asked.
“Well, it wasn’t my car you know?” Corrales said.
Corrales told 12News he has learned of at least one other customer this has happened to.
Lewis has filed a police report and a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's office.
In response to her AG claim, Corrales wrote, "Mr. Oscar Santos Rojero Tolentino was providing marketing services for Coyote Auto Credit as an independent contractor."
Corrales continued, "This vehicle was not part of our inventory. Mr. Oscar Santos Rojero Tolentino fraudulently obtained a sales contract from our dealership while I was absent. This contract was voided immediately after finding out what Mr. Oscar Santos Rojero Tolentino had done."
“He's the owner of the establishment. I don't even care about the employee. I'm talking about the owner," Fritzsche said.
Lewis said police have advised her not to drive the car as this investigation continues.
“Where's the car now?” Buono asked.
“In my front yard. It just sits. I can't drive it," Lewis said.
Now, she is hoping the dealer will change its mind. If not, she is asking police or the AG to step in.
“We are not going away," Fritzsche said. "Pay this bill or keep hearing from us.”
Lewis and her mom say the advice they can give after this transaction is don't hand over the money without the title.
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