AG: ‘Buyback’ scam targets VW, Audi diesel car owners

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Scam Alert
Graphic courtesy: MGN Online

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning Kentuckians who own a Volkswagen or Audi 2.0-liter Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI®) diesel-engine vehicle to be wary of a “buyback” scam.

Volkswagen announced in June that it would provide customers restitution and offer the buyback program in response to a class-action lawsuit and a suit brought by Beshear. The suits sought to ensure that consumers receive fair compensation from the automaker who deliberately installed rigged software on the vehicles in order to deceive owners, cheat emissions tests and claim the cars had “clean diesel” technology.

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Final approval of the emissions settlement is expected in October. Owners will then begin to receive at least $5,100 and a vehicle buyback offer worth thousands of dollars more than the current replacement value. If every eligible Kentuckian takes advantage of the settlement, payments to Kentucky consumers could exceed $80 million.

Beshear and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are warning TDI owners that scammers are looking to take advantage of the emissions settlement and willing to lie to owners so that they can acquire a vehicle and profit from the buyback.

“Due to the emissions scandal, these vehicles have become highly sought after by scammers who are looking to cash in on the buyback,” Beshear said. “My office fought to ensure that Kentucky car owners were compensated for being deliberately deceived by Volkswagen and now we want to make sure owners have the facts around the ‘buyback’ scam so they are not cheated again.”

Beshear offered these tips from the FTC to help owners avoid falling victim to a “buyback” scam:
• Refer to the official Volkswagen settlement website, https://www.vwcourtsettlement.com, for accurate eligibility, timeline, compensation and FAQ information.
• Be wary of bogus offers that are not affiliated with the official settlement.
• Lookout for offers that say you have to spend buyback compensation on a new Volkswagen or Audi.
• Be cautious of offers that try to get you to act quickly, before you have all of the information on your settlement.
• Report any suspicious offers for your vehicle, or anyone that suggests there are limits on the buyback program that don’t exist, to the FTC and to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 888-432-9257 or file a consumer complaint online.

In March Beshear filed a Consumer Protection Act suit against Volkswagen and connect brands Audi and Porsche. Volkswagen settled the suit in June and agreed that the Commonwealth is eligible for more than $19 million in environmental damage from an Environmental Mitigation Trust funded by Volkswagen and nearly $3.5 million in civil penalties.

In lieu of the buyback program, owners have the option of receiving a modification to their vehicle which will reduce emissions.

Volkswagen is currently working to develop a modification, which regulators must approve.

Kentuckians are urged to stay up to date on new and trending scams by signing up for Scam Alerts.

To enroll text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.