A Charleston-area car dealership is suing two of its former employees after the FBI opened an investigation into the company for allegedly doctoring loan applications and defrauding several banks.
Mark Hoover's CarFare Charleston LLC, the owner of Hoover Mitsubishi, filed a lawsuit alleging a former general manager and finance manager orchestrated a scheme to file false information in car loan applications in order to sell more vehicles.
Hoover and the former employees — Shawn Rustin and Kentrell Davis — were all named in an affidavit filed in federal court. The FBI seized records from the Savannah Highway dealership in June.
According to the affidavit, the FBI believes Hoover, Rustin and Davis altered loan applications to convince banks to extend loans to car buyers with bad credit.
According to the recently filed lawsuit, Hoover was not aware of that illegal activity. It said Hoover was left in the dark during the more than five years the dealership was submitting doctored applications.
Hoover signed all of the loan documents in question, but the lawsuit allages Rustin and Davis duped the owner into putting his name on that paperwork.
"Filing this suit is the right thing to do, given what the Hoover family has learned about the defendants," Hoover said Tuesday.
The FBI claimed the dealership lied on loan applications in several ways: They reported that car buyers traded in another vehicle or provided a down payment when they didn’t. They altered pay stubs from car buyers to inflate their incomes. And they created fake electricity bills to make it look like co-signers on a loan lived together.
So far, no criminal charges have been filed against the dealership, Hoover or the former employees. Davis could not be reached for comment. Rustin said he was not aware of the lawsuit and declined to comment until he spoke with his attorney.
Hoover said he fired Rustin and Davis in 2018. And he accused them of orchestrating the loan fraud on their own in order to cash in on incentive pay they received for selling more vehicles. Hoover further alleges that both men pocketed cash that belonged to the dealership.
The Hoover Mitsubishi dealership in West Ashley is now shut down. Hoover said he moved the vehicles at that location to his other dealership in Summerville.
Hoover blames Rustin and Davis for damaging his business, hurting his relationship with several banks and costing him "sales, income and profit."
The lawsuit wants a Charleston County jury to force the two men to pay back five years of wages to the dealership and to cover Hoover's legal expenses that resulted from the ongoing FBI investigation.
Hoover is also seeking punitive damages in the case.