How to avoid a bad used car deal

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A recent criminal case against two unlicensed car dealers in Memphis is now serving as warning for potential buyers.

At a hearing Wednesday, prosecutors decided not to move forward with charges against Lamonte Gray and Geno White.

The men were facing several charges included theft and forgery related to accusations they sold cars with salvage titles without telling customers.

Just a day after the charges were thrown out, NewsChannel 3 learned complaints against the men are now mounting in another state.

WREG confirmed attorneys with Legal Aid in Arkansas have already started receiving customer complaints.

Meanwhile, customers in Memphis say they hope their ordeal will serve as a warning for others.

WREG has been exposing these complaints against Gray, White and others connected to these sales for several years.

While prosecutors decided not to pursue criminal charges, one victim did get her money back.

Plus, WREG's investigation forced the Memphis Police Department to listen to customers.

The District Attorney General's office also took a closer look at the complaints.

While the sales mainly start online, Gray and others have operated at several locations with different names over the years.

They include: Universal Auto on Summer Avenue, Nationwide on North Parkway, Best Deals on Pleasant View and now there's Nationwide Auto Dealers in West Memphis, Arkansas.

The West Memphis location is run by, Andrew Collins, another man with a history of curbstoning, and connected to Gray.

Collins has a used car dealer license in Arkansas, but was flagged for no further licensure in Tennessee.

State regulators also fined Collins and Gray $90,000 last year for operating as unlicensed dealers.

As WREG previously reported, the latest customers say they make initial contact in Tennessee, or online, then, they're told to go to Nationwide in West Memphis to have their car inspected, and then get a title.

Carlis Stanton told WREG she bought a car in March and wasn't able to get a clean title.

She showed up at Wednesday's hearing to support one of the alleged victims.

Plus, she has some advice for other, potential buyers.

Stanton told WREG, "I wanted to see what happened, and I saw what happened, and as my sister just said, the city did fail."

WREG asked, "What do you hope happens with all the other people who have gone to the police since this case, like yourself?"

Stanton replied, "I`m hoping that everyone watches the news... so that way they won`t get caught up like we did."

Tips for Buying Used Cars

  • Conduct a simple internet search on the dealership or individual
  • Get a vehicle history report
  • Conduct a title search
  • Be careful turning over large sums of cash
  • When dealing with individuals, never walk away without a title
  • Verify a dealer's license, along with previous disciplinary action