People have sent information to AnneLandmanBlog that indicates customers of Grand Junction Red Rock dealerships have had their signatures forged on documents, and that such forgeries have likely been a problem at these dealerships for some time.
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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.
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:
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
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.”
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 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.”
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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:
The Colorado Department of Revenue’s Auto Industry Division (AID) has assigned a second criminal investigator to help the with the Red Rock dealership cases.
The first investigator looking into Red Rock is Dale Sundeen, who’s been with the Colorado Department of Revenue since 2008 and has been the agency’s western slope investigator for over ten years.
The additional investigator is John Bulman, who joined the Auto Industry Division in 2022 (pdf) after working for the Golden Police Department, where he was awarded Golden Police Officer of the Year in 2020.
Did you buy a vehicle from a Red Rock dealership and think you may have fallen victim to shady sales tactics? If so here’s some help:
First, think back to the day of your purchase:
Did the financial manager have you sign your name electronically on an IPad or email Docu-sign link? Did the financial person show you your full contract including the page with all the numbers on it, with the total price of the purchase and all the extras, before your signature appeared on it? Did the financial person tell you about the extras that had been added to your contract — extended warranties, maintenance agreements, oil changes, coatings, insurance, etc. – and did you openly agree to pay for all of them, or were they hidden from you?
Sonja Bartlowe is a single mom with two little girls and no child support who worked as a branch manager for a home care provider. Last May she traded in a vehicle and bought a 2016 Nissan Titan pickup truck priced at $39,000 from Red Rock Nissan, at least that’s what it was priced online.
Little did she know what she was in for.
Katelyn Slocum is a Certified Nursing Assistant with two small kids who works as an in-home hospice care provider for HopeWest. She uses her own car to get to her patients’ homes, and at the end of 2021, she decided she needed a more efficient car. She ended up at Red Rock Nissan, where she traded in a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee with almost 100,000 miles on it for a 2019 Subaru WRX with about 17,500 miles on it.
The transaction happened late on a Monday. Katelyn said, “It was a super-rushed purchase because it was past closing time, as it took awhile to get me approved for the loan amount.”
After hearing about other people whose names were forged by Red Rock and all the other problems people had had with their purchases, she was prompted to more closely examine her documents for the purchase of her vehicle, and on December 22, 2022 she took another good look.
The 21 year old customer of Red Rock Hyundai featured in a December 29 blog about the horrendous way the dealership treated him during his purchase of a used mid-sized truck reports that after almost two months of dealing with the situation, he has finally gotten full satisfaction from the dealership.
It wasn’t without a fight, though.
After the blog about his plight was published, the customer returned to the dealership with his father to press for concessions beyond the $4,500 the customer said the dealership had previously paid him “to essentially stay quiet about the deal.” As a result, the dealership took the problematic truck they initially sold him back as a trade-in, gave him a decent amount of money for it, and then sold him an entirely different vehicle for what the customer also considered an appropriate price. The dealership also removed the $5,000 charge for the extended warranty that the customer said he never wanted, and the $4,000 charge for a “Resistall” coating that the customer also didn’t realize he’d been charged for.
I got an email yesterday from yet another Red Rock Hyundai customer who had a story that was so incredible, I had to share it. It includes yet another charge of forgery, as well as the addition of thousands of dollars in extras to the contract without the customer’s knowledge or approval. I spoke to this person on the phone to verify that they were a real person, get more details about their story and clarify some of the terms they used in the email.
The person who wrote this is 21 years old and came from out of town to purchase the vehicle. The name is redacted to keep the sender anonymous, upon their request:
Note: I am re-posting this article from last December, now that a second former Red Rock dealership financial manager, Matthew Morris, has been charged with criminal impersonation, forgery and identity theft. This article contains information from a former Red Rock financial manager about how Red Rock allegedly (and routinely) defrauded customers as well as lenders (banks and credit unions). The article got little notice at the time I posted it, but it’s even more relevant now that criminal charges have been brought against a second Red Rock employee, who has implicated upper management in these activities..
Yet another former employee of a Red Rock auto dealership has contacted AnneLandmanBlog wanting to unload about what they experienced while working for Red Rock, and wanting others to know how business is done at these dealerships. This person has more detailed knowledge about financing of vehicle deals. Their name is withheld at their request. I asked this person follow-up questions based on information provided by a previous Red Rock employee who came forward and told about the illegal acts allegedly taking place at the dealerships, like falsifying customers’ financial information to lenders, misuse of digital signatures, forging of signatures, and more. This new person has even more detailed insight into these dealerships, the things they do to customers and banks, and how and why Red Rock dealerships operate so differently from other dealerships in town and around the country.