LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Tuesday her office has filed a consumer-protection lawsuit accusing a group of Arkansas auto dealers of deceptive trade practices and prohibited collection methods.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Tuesday her office has filed a consumer-protection lawsuit accusing a group of Arkansas auto dealers of deceptive trade practices and prohibited collection methods.


Rutledge said the suit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court alleges that Automatic Auto Finance, Jorja Trading Company, CashFish Motor Pawn and their officers and owners sold vehicles at inflated prices and provided in-house financing at exorbitant interest rates.


A call to the corporate headquarters of the companies was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.


The attorney general said in a news release the businesses are "buy-here-pay-here" dealerships, which she said target customers who are unable to obtain traditional financing from banks or credit unions.


The suit alleges that the defendants’ primary business is selling and financing low-value vehicles at inflated prices to consumers who they know are likely to default on the financing contract; reselling repossessed vehicles in a commercially unreasonable sale to create a significant deficiency balance; using prohibited collection practices to collect on that deficiency balance; and reselling vehicles to other consumers to repeat the scheme.


To date, the attorney general’s office has identified 2,252 cases of alleged prohibited collection practices by the defendants since 2010, Rutledge said.


The suit seeks civil penalties, restitution, attorneys’ fees, court costs and other relief against the defendants. The dealerships operated by the defendants include Auto Now, Instant Auto, Motor Street Auto of Northwest Arkansas, On Time Auto and All Star Auto Parts.


People who believe they have been victims of the practices alleged in the suit can contact the attorney general’s office to file a consumer complaint at (800) 482-8982 or ArkansasAG.gov.