Action 9 investigates risky car deposits

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WINTER GARDEN, Fla. —

An Orange County woman claims a dealership would not return her big deposit after her financing was rejected and she returned the car.

Angela Mack, a single mother on a tight budget, said she regrets buying a car from the couple who operated First Class Auto Sales in Winter Garden. 

"Now, I don't have my car, and I don't have my money," Mack said.

Mack bought a 2004 Chevy Malibu for $10,000 and paid a $700 deposit. But within a few days, she was denied financing. She received a rejection letter and took the car back.

"All I'm asking First Class Auto to do is return my funds," said Mack.

But Mack said she was told that the dealer had repossessed the car since she didn't make a payment, so there's no refund.

"How can you make payments on something that was never financed, and here's the paperwork to prove it,” Mack said.

By the time Mack called Action 9, First Class Auto Sales had locked the doors and emptied the lot. The owners, Joe and Gail Bustos, left no numbers or contact address.

Action 9 did uncover frantic calls to Winter Garden police from customers of First Class Auto. In just six months, four consumers claimed the dealer kept their cash.

Consumer attorneys said if a customer's financing is rejected, they get their money back.

"If you didn't get your deposit back and the vehicle was financed, then you shouldn't rest until you get the deposit back," said attorney Steve Fahlgren.

In a letter to Action 9, Gail Bustos, also known as Freida Hedglin, said the company collected a down payment for a car that was delivered, and it did nothing wrong. Her husband, Joseph, pleaded no contest to grand theft in 2005.

Mack just filed a complaint with the Division of Motor Vehicles.

"You have to do what you have do," she said.

Gail Bustos said she has been a licensed dealer for more than 30 years. Florida regulations also require a dealer to return a trade-in if financing is rejected.