New Jersey’s used-car industry is a haven for unpaid taxes, suspicious financial transactions, and rampant consumer fraud enabled by “phantom regulation,” an independent state investigative agency reported 18 months ago. Legislation that the state’s top motor-vehicle regulator says would make it easier for these bad actors to operate and further erode consumer protections.
NJDAM’s problems go beyond consumer fraud, SCI found: As of 2015, its dealer-tenants had accrued .2 million in unpaid taxes in the last two decades.
The younger Civello has also shared a bank account with and provided a loan to an associate of the De Cavalcante crime family, SCI found. He didn’t respond to requests for comment but has called the report “fiction.” The State Police investigated the Bridgeton site in the early 2000s, and authorities described it as “a major conduit of car‐sale fraud throughout the Northeast,” according to SCI.
The State Police received 98 criminal complaints against the business between fall 1999 and spring 2001, detective Michael Kane told the Associated Press in 2005, but there were no prosecutions. Asked for an updated number of complaints, a State Police spokesman referred questions to the Bridgeton police, who described NJDAM as “a shell building with various desks and nobody ever there.” The Cumberland County prosecutor had no record of charges against Civello Jr.
Campos, who isn’t licensed in New York, said he took cars there for storage.
“We just have that place for storage and convenience for somebody who’s trying to buy a car,” he said.