AUGUSTA (AP) – The state has taken action against two car dealerships in unrelated cases in Ellsworth and Biddeford, taking away the license of one to sell cars and obtaining an agreement from the other to pay a fine and restitution.

A Bureau of Motor Vehicles hearing officer lifted the license of Dave Gould Ford, located at Routes 1 and 3 in Ellsworth, following months of investigations into fraud that appears to have been part of a pattern at the dealership, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Friday.

Investigators put a $288,000 value on fraudulent acts, such as accepting vehicles for trade that had liens against them but failing to pay off those liens.

Dunlap said evidence also showed Gould was collecting payments for insurance policies and extended warranty coverage, but failed to submit those payments to the underwriting companies.

-Dunlap said the illegal acts caused some customers serious financial troubles.

State investigators began reviewing business practices at Gould Ford after receiving a consumer complaint in July 2007. Gould told the state on Tuesday week he is taking personal responsibility for the unpaid liens, according to Dunlap.

In the other case, a used car dealership in Biddeford that was accused of using improper sales tactics to pump up the price of its advertised vehicles entered into a consent decree to resolve an unfair trade practice complaint.

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe said the consent decree prohibits Five Star Auto Sales from increasing the advertised price of a vehicle by charging a document preparation fee or using unfair or deceptive tactics to sell an extended service contract.

The consent decree was filed in Kennebec County Superior Court. Rowe said consumers should be able to go into a car dealership and purchase a vehicle at its advertised price.

Under terms of the consent decree, the dealership did not admit to any wrongdoing but must pay restitution of $4,723, as well as a civil penalty $5,000.

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