Automobile

FCA employee-discount scheme a mystery

Naylor called the store and FCA to alert them of her discovery. She doesn’t know which salesperson had her information, but it turned out she wasn’t the only one to complain about someone at Parkway misusing employee discounts.

Federal prosecutors say Apollon Nimo, one of FCA’s top salespeople nationwide, had been selling employee discounts to customers for years in a scheme that bilked the automaker out of $8.7 million. That figure includes $700,000 in rewards FCA paid Nimo for the huge number of sales he was making, in addition to his compensation from the dealership.

Nimo, 34, was arrested April 30 on conspiracy and wire fraud charges, then released on bond. A preliminary exam is set for May 21.

In the majority of transactions that prosecutors allege were fraudulent, buyers claimed to be the brother-in-law or sister-in-law of an FCA employee to get a 5 percent discount. The employee-purchase control numbers used in the deals were often bought and sold through private Facebook groups.

Authorities started looking into Nimo after FCA employees began complaining that their personal discount codes had been used without their consent, often at Parkway. In 2019, FCA gave investigators a list of 268 employee numbers that were reported as having been used without authorization. All of them were linked to sales made by Nimo from Feb. 21, 2016, to June 18, 2018.

Prosecutors say Nimo sold 250 vehicles in a single month last year — more than most FCA dealerships’ entire sales teams, a manager at a nearby competitor told investigators — and was continuing to falsify employee discounts until the time of his arrest.

Parkway’s general manager, Michael Riley, didn’t respond to requests for comment from Automotive News. The dealership has removed Nimo’s name and photo from the staff listing on its website. Stellantis, the company FCA merged into this year, has declined to comment beyond a statement noting that dealerships are independent businesses and saying it is “committed to preserving the integrity of our employee purchase programs and is cooperating with the U.S. attorney’s office.”

Parkway promoted itself numerous times on Facebook from 2016 through 2020 as FCA’s highest-volume dealership in the country.

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