St. Louis, MO - April 11, 2012 - The Vehicle Protection Association (VPA), a not-for-profit trade association promoting regulatory transparency, education and accountability for marketing and servicing automotive service contracts, today announced its support for the prosecution of Darain and Cory Atkinson, former owners of US Fidelis. Darain Atkinson pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and filing false tax returns.
Due in part to efforts by the VPA, the vehicle service contract industry has made tremendous strides since Wentzville-based US Fidelis collapsed in 2009 amidst allegations of consumer fraud. The federal plea came shortly after Darain pleaded guilty in St. Charles County Circuit Court to state charges of fraud and stealing consumer refunds.
According to a statement by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, when a consumer cancelled a contract with US Fidelis, the company would refund only a percentage of the money, effectively stealing from the consumer (case 4:12cr122). The VPA has strongly condemned such actions.
"The Vehicle Protection Association supports all law enforcement prosecutions of companies and individuals who defraud consumers by operating outside the boundaries of the law," said Chris Carenza, executive director of the VPA. "A vehicle service contract can offer peace of mind and several other benefits to car owners, but consumers should note that only VPA-certified members have undergone an independent certification process designed with the rights of purchasers in mind."
All VPA members have agreed to abide by the VPA Standards of Conduct, an ethical code of conduct created to protect consumers who purchase auto service contracts. Under the Refund Policies & Procedures code, all refund policies must be disclosed to consumers prior to the sale of products and services. Furthermore, members are required to honor customer refund requests for a minimum of 30 days following the sale date and maintain cash reserves that are sufficient to issue refunds to all customers entitled to a refund at any given time.
A full list of VPA-certified vendors is available on the organization's website.
About the Vehicle Protection Association
The Vehicle Protection Association (VPA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing firms that are active in the automotive service contract industry. Members include service contract marketers, administrators, insurers, payment providers and software providers. VPA currently has more than 60 members. The organization is committed to ensuring regulatory compliance among members, educating consumers on their rights, and otherwise ensuring the integrity of the automotive service contract industry. For more information, visit http://www.vpanet.org.