The Straw Buyer

Here is a Franchise BMW Dealership in the Bay Area pulling an old scam and then attempting to throw the consumer to the wolves.

A potential client went with a friend who wanted to buy a new BMW about a year ago.

The friend negotiated a monthly payment that she could afford only through a lease – as opposed to a purchase. Even with this lowered payment, she did not “qualify for financing”.

According to this potential client, she was told by the salesperson if she agreed to sign the lease in her name, she would be able to transfer the lease to her friend within a year. Of course, this little twist is nowhere on the lease agreement.

The Rule: Once you leave a dealership having signed a contract for sale or lease, it is nearly impossible to change the terms.

She went back to the dealer several times in the past 6 weeks to speak with someone in charge – of course there was no one who would help.

The salesperson gave her advice to contact “Swap a Lease”. Swap a Lease is where you give up your car to a company who finds a replacement lessee. See any problems with this “solution”?

Once you turn over your car and it comes up missing, and that replacement lessee stops making payments, you cannot report it as stolen, since you voluntarily gave up possession. The police will not provide any help and will tell you it is a civil matter.

The potential client came to our office with her problem and we emailed the dealer and BMW Financial with this scheme. To its credit, BMW Financial put pressure on the dealer to repurchase the lease contract and take back the vehicle. This process took a little over a week, and we provided our services with no charge.

The lesson: a straw purchase (lease) violates the terms of the contract BY YOU. And if you find yourself in a similar predicament, NEVER give up possession to a third party. Get yourself a good lawyer.


Louis A. Liberty

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