Sleazy Prius Deal Ends in Warrant For Salesman’s Arrest

One of the assumptions of modern consumption is that if you buy something you don’t like, you get to return it. You also assume that the salesman isn’t going to write your wife’s name on the bathroom wall and say she willing to have sex for money. Both of those assumptions, and more, proved not true for Mark when after he bought a Prius from Toyota of Naperville, IL.

It’s bad enough that the salesman, Jim Gentile, committed outright fraud on Mark’s car financing. But then after Mark complained and tried to return the car, not only was he subject to more bilking and his efforts rebuffed, his wife started receiving lewd phone calls from people who said they found her name and number on a hooker website. A phone trace revealed the phone numbers harassing Mark’s wife belonged to one Jim Gentile.

When Mark called the dealership to confront Jim, he found that Mr. Gentile no longer worked there. He worked for Pontiac and was promoted to manager.

A warrant is out out for Jim’s arrest for phone harassment and disorderly conduct but Mark’s thirst for justice is not slaked. He demands restitution from Toyota Corporate.

Anatomy of a sleaze bucket, after the jump…


[Ed. Mark's letter is too long to post in its entirety, so we're just printing the parts that have to do with the harassment.]

After trying to return his car and being told by the manager to “get that car off his lot” before he called the tow truck and had it impounded, Mark reports:

“I received a call on my wife’s phone, the number was blocked. A man with an east Indian accent asked if my car was for sale claiming “there was a web site for losers who could not pay for their cars” and that my name was on it with a Prius for sale. The voice would not state their name so I hung up. This was the first of MANY bizarre calls surrounding our purchase.

During that month the content of the bizarre blocked incoming phone calls changed. They used to be at random times with the same male “east Indian” voice claiming to be Toyota corporate or Toyota finance, the calls were about paying for the car. Some were threatening, saying if we did not pay for the car we would lose our house at 1088 Heritage Hill Rd (that address is an apartment). The newer calls were directed to my wife Angela, the voice said there was a website stating she would have sex for money. My wife was absolutely horrified and demanded identification when none was given she hung up. These types of phone calls kept coming in, each one more disgusting than the previous.

The nasty phone calls continued at random times until April 21st when my wife received 5 blocked incoming calls in 1 day. All of them were sexually suggestive and vulgar in content. We called the Winnebago Sheriffs and had an officer sent to our residence to file a report. We had a sneaking suspicion that Jim Gentile was the person behind the telephone voice. The call about losing our house in Naperville came after we had moved to Rockford, but our phone number and old address were on paperwork filed with Toyota. The officer took some information and suggested we file charges for harassment and disorderly conduct. We went down to the Sheriffs office and filed charges, we waited the 48 hours necessary to complete filing a charge, then we finalized it. Monies from tax return allowed us to finally retain a lawyer. After discussing the case with the lawyer he said we had a clear case of fraud. He was intrigued by the phone calls and stated that it would be interesting if we could find out about the phone calls and Jim Gentile.

“We subpoenaed our phone records since phone representative said as long as the phone was answered by a human, the calls could be traced. The records could only be obtained for 45 day prior to request. It took a few days for the information to come in; when it arrived we went over all the numbers. The records showed two different numbers repeatedly calling Angela’s on April 21st. We did not recognize the numbers so we called each as a test. One I called was answered by a male voice, I asked if this was Bob and a familiar voice said that I had the wrong number. I quickly asked if this was Jim, the voice said “yes this is Jim”. I hung up and tried the other suspicious number and listened to a message stating “this is Jim Gentile; I’m not able to answer…..” Now I had proof that it was our Toyota salesman harassing us over the phone through a course of over four months. He had obviously been reprimanded or possibly fired over his fraudulent actions. I called Toyota of Naperville and asked for Mr. Gentile. They said “he no longer works here he was promoted and now works for Pontiac”.”

“I deserve some comeuppance for mental, physical, and monetary stress including destroyed credit which is a direct result of a soured business dealing with Toyota Motor Corp.”

“As of June 14th, 2006 Winnebago County States Attorney Issued a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Gentile for phone harassment, and disorderly conduct.”

Comments

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  1. Fenni Fentu says:

    Where’s the rest of the story?

  2. julian says:

    Ugh, if there was ever a time for the consumerist to bust some corporate balls, this seems as though it would be it.

  3. TedSez says:


    Phone harassment: Awful.

    Loan fraud: Awful.

    However:
    * I don’t know of any auto dealership that would allow you to simply return a car with 1,000 miles on it (unless maybe you could prove that it qualified for “lemon law” reparations).
    * These days, you absolutely have to do Internet research on the car you’re interested in, the kinds of deals other people are getting, your credit and the dealer’s sales practices before you go near a dealership.
    * It’s now known that estimated miles per gallon can be off by quite a bit. I don’t know if that’s true of the Prius, but much of the benefits you get from a hybrid engine comes from stop-and-go traffic. Freeway mileage can be a lot lower.
    * Given that the Prius was so much in demand in his area (and assuming his car wasn’t, in fact, a lemon), the writer might have been able to sell it himself for close to his original purchase price.
    * Given all this, if I were Toyota and I heard about this mess, I would immediately give the guy his money back, a great deal on any car he wanted, and the world’s biggest apology (well, as big as allowed by my legal department, anyway).

  4. TedSez says:


    P.S. That last comment was based on information in the writer’s full letter as it was originally posted… He felt that he didn’t get a proper test-drive and that the car’s mileage wasn’t as high as promised, and he was mad that the dealer wouldn’t just take the car back because he was unhappy with it.

  5. Jimmy M says:

    If I was Toyota I’d be forgiving this guy’s loan entirely, extending his service contract as long as possible, and hoping he still doesn’t sue the pants off of me.

  6. Kornkob says:

    Car companies are only allowed to advertize the EPA estiamted gas milage. It’s not a ‘promise’ by the manufacturer but a reporting of the milage arrived at by the EPA’s process for computing gas milage.

  7. Lemurs says:

    Kornkob, that’s true…but what do you want to bet that our obviously very scrupulous Mr. Gentile lied through his teeth and promised “not only would it get the EPA rating, but BETTER than the EPA rating, since they tend to be conservative.” I’m not saying the guy should have bought the argument, but it’s easy to guess how hard such a salesmen would have pushed for a sale…

  8. I’d like to see the rest of this story if possible…I live very close to that dealership and in fact almost bought a couple cars from them. (I ended up buying Scions from another dealer because the salesmen in the Naperville dealership were scum.)

  9. Kaz says:

    I believe it is possible to top EPA on the Prius, but you aren’t going to do it drive the way you’ve always been driving.

    I have Highlander Hybrid, and I don’t get near EPA, but I live in an area where it is impossible to drive to work at a constant cruising speed (using cruise control can help maximize a hybrid’s mileage). That, and I tend to drive a little aggressively.

    And the place I bought my Highlander at offers exchanges up to 7 days or 500 miles. Not quite 1000 miles, but still pretty impressive for a car dealer.

  10. Drinker Nisti says:

    What was the loan fraud? As a consumer, I’d be more interested in how that scam worked…

    Why the hard sell on the Prius? I thought it practically sold itself, no? My neighbor just bought one– dealer originally wanted $3K over sticker price, but bargained down to “only” $1K over. Nifty vehicle, but hardly a deal…

  11. tinfoil says:

    I would also like to read the rest of the story about the fraud? Nothing like picking up a book that is missing chapters.

  12. markweeble says:

    Here is an update:

    We just recently found out the Naperville Dealership owner Dan Wolf
    owns other dealerships in the area. Go to http://www.danwolf.com I called the
    pontaic dealership in Countryside, IL and they do have an employee name
    Jim Gentile. Email me at macweeble@insightbb.com for my copy of the
    full story.

  13. markweeble says:

    On Saturday, December 03, 2005 we met with Jim Gentile at T. of
    Naperville. Toyota Bob no longer worked there. When we did the numbers
    with Bob back in summer we were trading in a 2002 Pontiac Montana. We
    were informed by Jim that the deal would not work out and that we could
    try to finance without the trade in. After playing serious number games
    we found out from Jim that we could swing the deal, with a catch.
    “Since we had some old troubles financially and nothing to put down on
    the car, the bank needed more assurance the car would be cared for. We
    needed to get some extended warranties and G.A.P. insurance, that’s the
    only way the bank will finance. I, having little to no experience with
    buying new cars thought this sounded OK. I later found out this is an
    ILLEGAL business practice. Why would someone of limited resources add
    $4096.00 onto an already overpriced automobile unless that was the only
    way? Jim also reassured me the car was a bit pricey but the difference
    would be made up in gas savings. Another attractive bargaining chip was
    Jim’s web site. We were invited by Jim to view a website where blue
    book values showed that a 1 year old Prius with K-mileage in the double
    digits was selling for same as new. I financed the car through Toyota
    Financial Services.

  14. markweeble says:

    Here is the warrant number for Mr.Gentile’s arrest. 06CM-3829. You can
    call the warrant office at 815-987-5404 or 815-319-4500. I was told
    that this is public records.

  15. Lorenzo says:

    I can’t believe this is going on in Naperville. In a community that has an average education level of at least a bachelors and two high schools with average ACT scores over 23, people are going to find out if you pack on the financing.

    If I owned the Toyota dealership there on Aurora Ave, I’d make sure my salespeople didn’t scam people because now they’re on Consumerist forever.

  16. angela says:

    Hi Larry:

    You are right about Naperville community. We used to live in the local
    area. Hired a lawyer over the weekend, Dan Wolf Toyota of Naperville
    and Mr. Gentile are both going to be sued.. They will be served soon.
    We are not going to rest until justice is done.

  17. Lorenzo says:

    Naperville is also home to Naperville Central (a mile from Toyota dealership also on 440 W. Aurora) where NCHS won State for Baseball this past June! If I didn’t give up 17 runs in the sectional finals (after giving up 12 earned runs all YEAR) in 1987, I’d be state champ too. High school (almost) hero, college zero.

    Angela: keep fighting and call Dan Wolf himself. I met him thru Pontiac Zone office in Naperville and he’s nice (or was nice back in 1985). Call him at (708) 352-7800

    Also, call the Toyota zone office.

    Next car: My recommendation is work with Mike Van Iten at Village Pontiac. He’s good and has been there since the 70s

  18. JCMAN says:

    Mike Van Iten is a ass

  19. markweeble says:

    JCMAN:

    Nice words! What a potty mouth you have here!

  20. turtledude558 says:

    now works at pontiac?!?!

    no!

    this is terrible!

    :(