News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Better Business Bureau and the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection is looking into a former Augusta automotive dealership owner's latest business venture.
Tim Duke, former owner of Duke Automotive, was indicted for theft by deception last year. The latest allegation stems from claims of misleading and false advertising concerning Advanced Automotive Training.
Like many folks these days, Justin Sharpe is looking for a good-paying job.
"It's really hard now finding a decent job," he complained.
An ad on Craigslist caught his eye for a sales position at a well-known dealership in town.
"It said automotive sales position was opening at Fairway Ford and that they needed 15 people," Sharpe said.
Sharpe began suspecting something wasn't right when he showed up to his interview at Fairway Ford.
"During the interview we were told we would have to pay some type of training fee but wasn't specified how much," he said.
He saw other red flags, too.
"For one, the trainer didn't want to use his name; he wanted to go by his initials," Sharpe said.
"What were his initials?" News 12 asked.
"TD," he responded.
Sharpe later learned "TD" stood for Tim Duke. He also learned later that he was required to pay $629 for a training manual provided by Advanced Automotive Training. Documents also show there wasn't a guarantee of a job at Fairway Ford at the end of the two-day class.
"As I was reading it, I felt something wasn't right," Sharpe said.
He isn't the only one to feel deceived.
"It was brought to the BBB's attention through a complaint filed by a consumer in Florida," said Gigi Turner with the Better Business Bureau of the CSRA.
Turner says another consumer made a similar complaint about Duke and Advanced Automotive Training earlier this summer.
"Basically the complaint alleged they were mislead to believe through an ad that they were interviewing for a particular dealership in Florida," she said.
After paying $629, Turner says the consumer later learned the position was already filled and no longer available.
News 12 On Your Side called Duke. He told us he worked at UCS Auto, which is an automotive sales training company based out of Charlotte. Duke was adamant that he was not the owner of Advanced Automotive Training.
News 12 contacted UCS Auto. A manager told us Duke is not an employee there. The manager says Duke purchases marketing and training material from them.
Duke later admitted he is the manager of Advanced Automotive Training.
"Our concern is there any misleading going on? We are looking at right now," Turner said.
Sharpe decided not to purchase the training manual from Advanced Automotive Training.
"Just a lot of red flags," he said.
News 12 left follow-up messages with Duke for an on-camera interview. He did not return those calls.
Fairway Ford's management say they did not know Duke was linked to Advanced Automotive Training. They also say Duke is no longer allowed at the dealership.