Daily Sentinel headline, August 29
A second former Red Rock GMC financial manager has been charged with forgery, criminal impersonation and identity theft within the last month after posing as a customer on a phone call to the Canvas Credit Union to try to expedite a customer’s vehicle loan.
Matthew Morris acted as an accomplice to Tiffany Miller, the first Red Rock GMC financial manager charged with the same crimes in early August. Both Morris and Miller were fired from Red Rock, but in her arrest affidavit Miller pointed to Red Rock management as pressuring her to commit the crimes. In the same affidavit (pdf), Morris said that Red Rock GMC Sales Manager Tyson Chambers and General Manager Caleb Stillman both knew he and Miller were making the fake calls to
Tyson Chambers, General Manager of Red Rock GMC
the lender and that they “and essentially encouraged the behavior.” Morris added that “he was terminated [from his job] not for making the call, but for being caught.”
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Red Rock got this free media from the Daily Sentinel on January 19, 2023, with this photo of their donation to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Red Rock also got Joy Thompson of CASA to say “We love Red Rock” on a January 19, 2023 local KREX-TV news segment about the donation.
After a company has been outed as over-the-top greedy, there’s nothing left for it to do but make conspicuous donations to local charities to score public relations points and blow smoke to make people forget about how their business has harmed the community in the long term.
That’s likely why, near the end of 2022, after all the unseemly tactics Red Rock Auto dealerships had been using on customers to fleece them out of thousands of dollars over the last 7 years were exposed, Red Rock suddenly started ramping up its donations to local charities and promoting their donations in ads on TV and through free media given to them by local TV stations and newspapers.
A company that ingratiates itself to reputable charitable causes as a way to distract from its immoral acts is engaging in a form of “greedwashing,” a term developed during the taxpayer-funded federal bailouts of the big banks during the economic crash of 2008-2009:
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Last minute update: The FTC’s CARS Rule, which is the subject of this article and was intended to put a stop to shady dealerships’ worst abuses of customers, was scheduled to go into effect July 30, 2024, but was officially postponed (pdf) on January 18, 2024 as a result of lobbying by the Texas Automobile Dealers Association and the National Automobile Dealers Association, which oppose the rule.
On December 12, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finalized the Combating Auto Retail Scams rule (CARS) to end the most common abuses that dealerships like Red Rock Auto in Grand Junction have long perpetrated on customers when selling cars. The CARS Rule was scheduled to go into effect on July 30, 2024. [See above last minute update].
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AnneLandmanBlog has received credible information that a large number of former Red Rock employees have moved over to Grand Valley Auto, where they are continuing to use the same tricks they learned at Red Rock.
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An open records request to the Colorado Department of Revenue Auto Industry Division (AID) seeking all complaints submitted about the major Grand Junction auto dealerships over the last two years showed no complaints were submitted against Western Slope Auto, which sells Ford, Lincoln & Toyota, no complaints were submitted against Ed Bozarth Chevrolet & Buick, no complaints were submitted against Grand Junction Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, and no complaints were submitted against Jim Fuoco Motors or Fuoco Honda in 2021, before it was sold to Red Rock Auto Group in April of 2022, but within the last two years at least 15 complaints were submitted about Red Rock Auto Group’s stores. There were at least two more complaints beyond the 15 documented ones the Auto Industry Division sent that were submitted against Red Rock, but one of them was still undergoing investigation and they could not release information on it, and the other was dismissed after the complainant chose not to pursue it further. Another complaint against Red Rock was submitted to the Colorado State Attorney General, who is investigating it. This makes a total of 18 known complaints lodged against Red Rock Auto Group stores in Grand Junction in the last 2 years.
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Note that “Bookcliffs Investment Group, LLC” is not be confused with “Bookcliffs Financial Planning and Investments,” which is an entirely different company unaffiliated with Reade and Adams’ business.
Former Red Rock Nissan and Kia managing partner Brantley Reade and the former General Manager of Red Rock’s GMC dealership, Cord Adams, who both left Red Rock under a cloud on the same day last January, opened a financial investment business together last February, shortly after leaving Red Rock.
Reade and Adams were part of the so-called “fraternity” of managers from Tim Dahle dealerships in Salt Lake who came to Grand Junction to help run the Red Rock Auto Group. They were high-management casualties of the large-scale personnel churn that began near the end of 2022, after customers started revealing the illegal and unethical business practices they fell victim to while buying vehicles at Red Rock dealerships.
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A former employee of Red Rock Hyundai in Grand Junction who quit as an act of conscience last year previously gave an interview in which he told how Red Rock financing and insurance (F&I) employees had been fleecing people and submitting false information to financial institutions on the sales side. The same person also worked in the service department at Red Rock Hyundai, so I contacted him again to talk about how service is billed at these dealerships. The conversation ranged into a discussion of other service practices as well.
The former employee revealed some disturbing practices he’d witnessed in the service department at Red Rock Hyundai. These, combined with what he had seen happening on the sales side weighed heavily on his conscience and led up to his resignation. Some of what he said he had seen included:
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Screen shot of a Red Rock TV ad
The Red Rock Auto Group, which owns five dealerships in Grand Junction, has been advertising heavily on local news with ads that tout what they say are their many positive reviews.
We’ve already seen evidence, however, that indicates Red Rock manipulates online reviews by coercing its employees to write positive reviews (a violation Google policy) and by purchasing good reviews from customers by offering them perks like free gas and oil changes in exchange for positive online reviews.
But we shouldn’t forget the slew of gritty and honest negative reviews that show the real difficulty Red Rock has caused so many customers, and the responses or lack thereof to such reviews from “the owner.”
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Mug shot of Tiffany Momilani Miller, a former Red Rock GMC financial manager who was arrested earlier this month on charges of forgery, criminal impersonation and identity theft. (Photo: Daily Sentinel/GJPD)
Former Red Rock GMC financial manager Tiffany M. Miller was arrested earlier this month and charged with forgery, identity theft and criminal impersonation.
AnneLandmanBlog obtained a copy of the full August 2 arrest affidavit (pdf) for Miller.
The biggest takeaways from it are summarized below:
- A couple was trying to buy a vehicle from Red Rock GMC at 741 N. First Street, and applied for a loan through the dealership. After they left with the vehicle, two Red Rock financial managers, Tiffany Miller and Matthew Morris, phoned the customers’ lender and posed as the couple, in a claimed effort “to verify the information on the auto [credit] application,” and “expedite the loan process.”
- In addition to posing as the customers, Miller falsified information on the customers’ credit application, including who the primary driver of the vehicle would be, and the length of time the couple had lived at their residence, and she falsely stated the car had extra accessories it didn’t actually have, including running boards, rear bucket seats, a rear entertainment system and blind spot monitors. The customers told GJPD investigators the car they were purchasing had none of these features. These items would have increased the value of the vehicle to the lender. (Note: This is a practice that, according to a former Red Rock finance employee is called “Power Booking,” that is aimed at increasing the value of the car to the lender to get the customer a bigger loan.)
- The Grand Junction Police Department (GJPD) first sent the case to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Auto Industry Division (AID), the enforcement agency for dealerships. Months later, the AID sent it back to the GJPD because “the allegations are for felony criminal activity.”
- Red Rock GMC General Manager Tyson Chambers said Red Rock GMC got “locked out” of Canvas Credit Union via their online lending platform, Credit Union Direct Lending (CUDL), because of the “victim complaint and the potential forgery on the loan application.”
Tyson Chambers, General Manager of Red Rock GMC, who, according to Miller’s arrest affidavit, pressured Red Rock Human Resources Manager Amy Felix to lie on a form about why Tiffany Miller had left Red Rock. Felix told a police investigator Tyson had ordered her to lie on the form because he “didn’t want to ruin [Tiffany Miller’s] life.”
- Tyson Chambers fired both Tiffany Miller and Matthew Morris, the two GMC financial managers who posed as customers on the phone call to the lender. Morris later told the GJPD criminal investigator that he was told that making calls posing as customers was “just part of the business and everyone knows they do it, to include the banks.”
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We’ve already seen that Red Rock auto dealerships in Grand Junction have drawn more than 15 times the complaints to the Auto Industry Division of other new car dealerships in town over the last two years, and that they used illicit sales tactics that sent many hard-working customers into desperate downward financial spirals. The Better Business Bureau slapped red alerts on several Red Rock dealerships due to “a pattern of complaints” about their contracts, service departments, and customer service.
By comparison, non-Red Rock new car dealerships in G.J., like Western Slope Auto, Bozarth Chevrolet, Grand Junction Subaru & Volkswagen, and Grand Junction Chrysler Jeep Dodge logged no customer complaints within the same time frame. This begs the question of why is there such a big difference between how Red Rock has operated, and how these other dealerships operate?
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Think Trouble: Red Rock’s proprietary USB key-style thumb drive that they use to hand people their documents
Since Red Rock dealerships’ shady sales tactics were first exposed in this blog, people have been digging out documents from their vehicle purchases at Red Rock, examining them and continuing to discover expensive extras added to their contracts that they didn’t know about and signatures on them that people say are not theirs.
One of these people is Natasha Bury-Wilder, a hard-working single mother of three employed in home care, who says she got taken twice by Red Rock Nissan and ended up in a deep financial hole as a result.
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Red Rock Hyundai, 2162 Highway 6 And 50, between Fruita and Grand Junction
UPDATE, Monday, August 7: Red Rock Hyundai fixed the cracked windshield and Harry finally took possession of his 2023 Kona, but it had a dent in the fender that occurred either when they were fixing the windshield or applying the clear bra/window tint. Harry also discovered today that there is an urgent recall on his vehicle over a faulty oil pump that can cause fires. Owners of 2023 Konas are being advised to park their vehicles away from structures due to the fire hazard. The NHTSA says there is currently no repair available for the faulty part.
UPDATE: June 24, 2023 – Harry left the new, red Kona in the care of the dealership so they could have a clear bra and window tint added to it, and Harry reported on June 24, 2023 that Red Rock Hyundai had called him to tell him there was a crack in the windshield of his new car that they believe is a manufacturer defect. The car is currently awaiting a new windshield.
At age 53, Harry Faulkner of Rifle thought he was finally doing well enough financially that he could afford a brand new car, the first one in his life. So in October, 2021, he went to Red Rock Hyundai in Grand Junction and proudly bought a brand new 2022 Hyundai Venue.
That began an extended nightmare that took a year and eight months to resolve.
His story would have been comical in a Keystone Cops kind of way, if it hadn’t been so stressful, expensive and frustrating for Harry.
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You used to get a better deal if you could pay cash. At Red Rock dealerships, it’s now the opposite.
Red Rock Kia is advertising a 2018 Nissan Murano on Facebook Marketplace with two different prices: one if a customer finances the car, and another almost $900 higher for customers who pay cash.
The ad points to the financed price, and crows “Saves money!”
Come on, Red Rock. We’re not idiots.
Any form of financing will cost a buyer far more than they can ever save on this deal.
Even under the best circumstances, for example a customer who finances $27,000, has an excellent credit score and a 48 month loan at a 5% interest rate, after adding taxes and fees to the deal, the interest on that loan will cost at least $3,350.
Small potatoes compared to the what Red Rock wants to charge people who pay cash.
It’s legal for them to do this. After all, they’re telling you about it right up front, as they should
But that also gives people the ability to vote with their feet by patronizing businesses that don’t discriminate against customers based on form of payment.
We’ve already seen the evidence showing Red Rock dealerships worked to slant reviews in their favor on public-facing consumer review sites like Google Reviews and Yelp. A different facet of this deceptive behavior is how the dealerships treat vehicle manufacturers’ customer satisfaction surveys.
Members of the public use Google, Yelp, Cars.com, DealerRater and other review sites to help them decide who to patronize, so stacking reviews on these sites misleads the public. But auto manufacturers have their own proprietary, internal customer satisfaction surveys that they use to determine how well or poorly customers are being treated at their dealerships, and where their dealerships need improvement.
Vehicle makers expect honest responses to these surveys so they can improve their customers’ experiences, so submitting falsified answers to the car companies’ customer satisfaction surveys defrauds the vehicle manufacturers.
Two former Red Rock employees report that “bribing” and “harassing” customers to leave positive manufacturer surveys was routine at these dealerships while they worked there.
One former Red Rock service employee wrote in a text,
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A copy of a letter sent to Red Rock Nissan by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Auto Industry Division. This copy of the letter came to Michelle Mondragon, whom Red Rock Nissan initially charged over $15k above the price they advertised for her truck. The Mondragons filed a complaint with the Auto Industry Division against Red Rock last October. The letter warns Red Rock that their dealer’s license could be in jeopardy.
Michelle Mondragon, whose hair-raising story about buying a vehicle from Red Rock Nissan last year was featured in this blog November 1, 2022, received the above letter from the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Auto Industry Division last week indicating they have finally taken some action against the dealership, albeit a very weak action.
The letter warns Red Rock they “may have” violated several laws and regulations in the Mondragons’ case regarding deceptive advertising and sales of vehicles, and says “No action will be taken against your dealer’s license at this time. However, any further violations may be referred to the Motor Vehicle Dealer board,” and “your dealer’s license may be subject to disciplinary action that could include fines, suspension or revocation of your license. It is imperative that you take measures to correct the matters within your organization.”
This is likely just the beginning.
The Mondragons submitted their complaint against Red Rock last October. Since then, many more Red Rock customers have submitted complaints about how Red Rock defrauded them.
If you review paperwork from your deal at Red Rock and find irregularities like forged signatures, charges for items you never agreed to like extended warranties, special coatings or detail packages, or if you check with your lender and find Red Rock lied to them about your gross income, monthly rent or mortgage payment or the features of the vehicle you were buying, file a complaint with the Auto Industry Division at this link. Be prepared to upload images of your paperwork to substantiate what you found that was fraudulent.
Dale Sundeen (Photo: Auto News)
Dale Sundeen, the Colorado Department of Revenue Auto Industry Division’s criminal investigator who was investigating Grand Junction’s Red Rock dealerships, quit his job with the state and went to work for Red Rock Auto Group as their “Corporate Director of Compliance.”
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After examining paperwork from their transactions at Red Rock dealerships, more people report they’ve found forged signatures on their contracts and other documents from their deals:
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