Bryan Cohen Mar. 5, 2014, 3:05pm

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced seven civil lawsuits and two criminal cases on Monday against Missouri car dealers and financers for allegedly failing to provide titles for sold vehicles.

Summit West Auto Group, Montgomery Auto Group, Floorplan Xpress LLC, M&P Auto Group, KB Motorsports, 417 Auto Group and Top Quality Auto allegedly failed to pay financing companies for cars sold to Missourians. As a result, the financing companies allegedly refused to relinquish title to the vehicles and the consumers were left having paid for cars they did not legally own. Many of the vehicles were allegedly impounded or repossessed.

"Under Missouri law, consumers purchasing vehicles do not legally own those vehicles until they have the titles signed over to them, in their possession," Koster said. "Even if a consumer pays for the car and drives it away, he or she does not own that car without a title. Missourians should not complete a vehicle purchase unless they will have the title when they drive that vehicle off the lot."

Koster also filed criminal charges against two agents from Auto Credit Mart LLC for allegedly engaging in the financial exploitation of the elderly, unlawful merchandising practices, forgery and deceptive theft. Auto Credit Mart also allegedly failed to provide titles to 50 consumers.

In total, the seven dealerships allegedly sold more than $500,000 worth of vehicles without providing titles to more than 100 Missourians.

"The message to the car-dealer community and to Missouri consumers is that a vehicle sale is not complete until a car title is signed over to the purchaser," Koster said. "Dealers have an obligation under Missouri law to provide a car title when they accept payment for and deliver a car. We want financers, dealers, and consumers to all be aware of this and to follow the law."

More News