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Kim’s Catch: Auto Sublease Scams

car keys

Here’s the catch:  A lessee looking to unload the financial burden of their car lease seeks relief from an automobile subleasing company that promises to find qualified persons looking to lease short-term and to assume the lease payments. After turning over the keys, confident that some of the financial stress will be alleviated, some clients are unpleasantly surprised to find the subleasing company is not holding up their end of the bargain. This is the story of some lessees that trusted businesses such as Exotic Lease Transfer, Luxe Lease Transfer, Standard Motor Group and others. Complaints filed against these companies share the same experience—the companies did not deliver on their promises. As a result, some clients’ credit has been negatively impacted, they incur late fees, are left to pay for damages and other fees on their own, etc.

Distressed consumers who’ve filed complaints with Business Consumer Alliance allege payments are late or not made at all, lapses in insurance coverage, unauthorized use of their vehicles, and failure to take financial responsibility for damages and tickets that are obtained while in these company’s possession. Some allege they receive their vehicles back with an excessive amount of miles, others have had difficulty reaching their representatives to get their vehicles back, and some have even had to report their vehicles stolen to retrieve them. One complainant was convinced to allow Standard Motor Group to sublease his car and later discovered that cars are rented out or driven for personal use.

The similarities regarding these companies don’t end with common complaint allegations. Geoffrey “Geoff” Hull is a name that pops up when consumers discuss these auto subletting businesses. He has garnered a reputation for being associated with several F-rated businesses and scamming consumers trying to relieve themselves of the debts associated with their auto leases. Check out the reputation reports of the companies noted above to read the complaints and obtain more information that BCA has discovered.

Kim’s advice:  If you are thinking about subleasing your vehicle, there are some things you need to know. Some contracts prohibit subleasing. Review your contract. You may find that subleasing your vehicle could breach the contract and you may face fines or penalties. Even if your finance company allows the lease to be transferred, they may not remove the original lessee's name from the lease. This means that if anything goes wrong, you may be held liable. Contact your finance company to see if you are allowed to transfer your lease and, if so, how to do so.

Transferring your lease can be both risky and costly. Once transferred, your vehicle may incur excessive mileage, be involved in a traffic accident, used in criminal activity, obtain traffic tickets, or even be shipped out of the state or country. All the while, you could find you’re responsible because your name is on the lease.

Before doing business with any auto subleasing company, check out their reliability. Obtain a BCA report, do a search on the web, and contact customers that have used the business before. Ask questions and obtain all guarantees and terms in writing. If you wish to proceed with a lease transfer, find out what your costs will be. Ask the lease transfer company about their total fee, who pays the finance company's transfer fee, and what their average timeframe is to locate a buyer.

Some alternatives to subleasing or transferring the lease include:

  • Buying the vehicle or utilizing the “early buyout” feature of your lease and then selling it to a dealership or a private party.
  • Trading in the vehicle for another more affordable option.
  • Check into lease pull-ahead programs and dealership buyouts. 

About Business Consumer Alliance Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.