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Utah RV fraud victims could still have their day in court

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Earlier this month we reported on dozens of cases of fraud perpetrated on RV buyers at a Utah dealership. Over a period of nearly three years, some buyers at General RV had “doctored” loan papers sent off to their loan companies. While they thought their rigs were on 20-year finance, the notes were actually for 10 years. At the end of those years, a big balloon payment waited. Our story explained how Utah state officials said that the statute of limitations foiled any chance of prosecuting the crooks. But an attorney who specializes in RV cases says hang on – those RV fraud victims may still have the ability to see some justice served.

RV lawyer reaches out

Ronald Burdge. Courtesy ohiolemonlaw.com

Ronald Burdge practices law in Ohio, and is known for his representation of RV owners in “lemon law” cases. Burdge saw our story about the RV fraud victims. He reached out to RVtravel.com with his legal instincts on the case. [Full disclosure: The Burdge Law Office advertises on RVtravel.com.]

As to Utah prosecutors taking the stand that Utah law kills off cases for them, Mr. Burdge agrees. “If the lender being used in one of these illegal transactions was a bank (not a finance company),” Burdge wrote, “then the consumer can sue the dealer and the employees involved in the fraud.” But the devil is in those legal details. “As long as the lawsuit is filed within four years of when the fraud occurred.”

That’s the statute of limitations in play. Since it looks like the fraud took place from 2014 to 2017, prosecution under Utah law is moot. BUT, Burge tells us, that doesn’t take into account other laws – ones on the federal books.

Other ways of charging exist

“A federal criminal charge could be pursued within 10 years,” Mr. Burdge told us, “if a bank was involved.” If a financing company floated the paper, then the limit would be five years to file a criminal case. While Utah state law would crimp state prosecutors from acting against the RV fraudsters, it doesn’t leave the state’s attorneys untarnished. “He [the state’s prosecutor] could have told them to see the local U.S. Attorney’s office for [a] federal RICO claim,” wrote Burdge.

A RICO claim? That acronym stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. It’s a U.S. federal law. It provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. Here’s what happens if a RICO case sticks. Guilty ones are liable to fines up to $25,000 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for every racketeering count. Moreover, they’re also on the hook to forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of “racketeering activity.”

A RICO charge might not be the only “hammer” that could be held over the heads of the RV paperwork fraudsters. “None of this considers conspiracy and other charges that might exist,” adds Burdge.

For the victims?

For the Utah fraud victims, this could mean that federal prosecutors could go after the bad-deeders. So what would it mean for the victims if prosecutors pursued and won their case? It could potentially mean some sort of compensation. “The court,” says Ronald Burdge, “might order restitution of actual losses.” He adds the sobering thought, “Or [it] might not.” If the crooked paper cookers were found guilty, they could, as we’ve seen, spend a bit of time in prison. For some, that might be “just desserts” enough.

What should you do? Speaking of the RV fraud victims, Burge writes emphatically: “Every victim should complain … to the FBI and their state and federal representatives long, loud, and hard.” Persistence is important as, “You get what you deserve when you fight for it.”

Are you a victim? Here’s a direct contact for you. Reach out to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah, for RICO claims. 111 S. Main St. #1800, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. Telephone (435) 634-4270.

Related

They scammed dozens of RV buyers – but no charges will be filed

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Mike Schwab
1 month ago

As long as you are suffering harm from modified loan documents (request for balloon payment, higher interest rate from refinancing, etc, wouldn’t you be able to sue the people who wrote the modified documents?

DENNIS KOGLER
1 month ago

I REMEMBER TALKING TO GENERAL RV ABOUT A NEW GRAND DESIGN I ORDERED BACK IN 2016, I CAUGHT THEM ALTERING THE DEALER INVOICE BY 10K TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THEY WERE DISCOUNTING THE RV TO ME, I TURNED THEM INTO GRAND DESIGN, THE GRAND DESIGN BUNCH SENT TO BISH’S RV IN IDAHO. WOULDN’T GO BACK THERE IF THEY WERE THE LAST RV DEALER ON THE PLANET!

Drew
1 month ago

Great follow up article- I hope those people pay for their crimes in some significant way.

Jesse Crouse
1 month ago

Squeaky wheel get’s the grease. Or in this case some money and satisfaction. Go Mick!