NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


Kansas City man in car-buying limbo following Lawrence Kia purchase

Has title with lien holder, but no loan
lawence kia.jpg
Posted at 3:00 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 16:00:13-04

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Lawrence Kia customer Ryan Schuetz bought a car only to find out the loan he thought he had obtained to pay for it doesn’t exist.

“Had I known what I know now, obviously I would never want to do business with these people,” Schuetz said.

Documents show Schuetz bought an Optima from Lawrence Kia on May 1.

His deal to pay for the car was with a loan through Azura Credit Union.

The car title also lists his lien holder as Azura.

“My insurance company thinks that I have a car and lien with Azura Credit Union," Schuetz said. "Up until these past couple of weeks, I thought I did too."

But now, Schuetz said he’s in car limbo.

After about two months passed, he never received a payment book from Azura.

When Schuetz called, Azura representatives told him they had no car loan record for him on his May deal.

"Right now, I have a physical car," he said. "I have a physical car title saying that I have a lien with Azura Credit Union listed on the back, but I have no place to make a payment."

The I-Team reached out to both Lawrence Kia and Azura Credit Union to find out what happened to Schuetz.

Azura Vice President of Marketing Allyson Shove said the credit union stopped accepting new loans from Lawrence Kia in June.

But further attempts to get comment from Shove about Schuetz’s specific deal, which predates Azura’s decision to stop accepting loans from Lawrence Kia, went unanswered.

Azura’s June decision to dump Lawrence Kia followed several I-Team reports that month.

Those stories documented claims that Lawrence Kia has, for years, been sending falsified loan applications with inflated customer incomes to lenders to sell more cars and high-profit additional items like extended warranties and gap insurance.

In addition to Azura Credit Union, Wells Fargo also stopped taking loan applications from Lawrence Kia following I-Team reports in June.

Former Lawrence Kia employee Mark Kavanaugh said Owner/Manager Chin Rajapaksha asked him to review customer deals before Kavanaugh left the business this past April.

“From the short time that I became involved, roughly a couple of months, I uncovered hundreds of deals,” Kavanaugh said. "Every time, the income was inflated."

Ron Zahorik, a former Lawrence Kia salesman, told the I-Team like Kavanaugh, he too left the dealership because of management business practices.

“Word that there’s probably hundreds of cases, I’ll bet that’s probably more like thousands,” Zahorik said.

Multiple Kansas agencies, as well as Kia Motors America, are investigating Lawrence Kia following the I-Team reports.

When the I-Team went to Lawrence Kia last week to get answers to Schuetz’s problem, two men came outside and shot cell phone pictures or video of the I-Team shooting dealership video, but nobody talked.

"I do not want to do business with these people knowing what you guys have helped shine the light on,” Schuetz said.

He’s concerned after putting $1,200 down on his deal and trading in his old car, his new car could get repossessed for nonpayment, even though through no fault of his own, he has no lender.

After the I-Team sent an email to Lawrence Kia’s attorney Alyssa Brockert requesting comment on Schuetz’s issue, Rajapaksha called Schuetz.

Rajapaksha offered him the options of new financing or to return the car, according to Schuetz.

Further investigation by Schuetz revealed Lawrence Kia failed to submit his revised loan to Azura.

According to Schuetz, his original loan was for 60 months, which Lawrence Kia sent to Azura.

But when he decided to get an extended warranty and keep his car payments roughly the same, the term of the loan was changed to 72 months.

Schuetz said Azura never received the revised 72-month loan application, so Azura assumed Lawrence Kia went with another lender.

Schuetz also said Rajapaksha claimed he did send over the 72-month contract.

But Azura told Schuetz their contracts are time stamped electronically and the revised contract was never sent.

"Lawrence Kia is just a terrible place to do business because they don't seem to know what they are doing," Schuetz said.

Azura, according to Schuetz, has sent a lien release to him in the mail he should get Wednesday.

Schuetz has reached out to attorneys who filed a class action lawsuit against Lawrence Kia for legal advice.

He's waiting to hear from them before taking any further action.