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Muslim man sues car dealership, says he was duped

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

A Muslim man is suing Select Motors in Tampa for allegedly duping him into purchasing a luxury vehicle for more than he initially bargained for. According to the lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County Court February 3, the cost discrepancy between the acquisition price Deeb Aliwaiwi brokered and what was assessed in loan documents amounted to more than $50,000.

But here’s the kicker, Aliwaiwi signed a contract agreeing to the higher purchase price.

The 31-year-old entered Select motors with two friends on Nov. 31 to purchase a 2012 Porsche Panamera. He claims he explained to the salesman that his religious beliefs forbade that he interest. The Muslim faith does indeed include such a prohibition leading to the creation of “Sharia-compliant banking institutions.”

According to Aliwaiwi’s lawsuit, the salesman agreed to charge him a $10,000 down payment with 60-months of $800 payments due for a total purchase price of $60,000. However, the dealership then handed Aliwaiwi documents to sign that told a different story.

Those documents asked for a $14,000 down payment and 72-months of $1,402 payments for a total purchase price of nearly $115,000. The price included a 22 percent interest rate.

Aliwaiwi claims he asked the salesman what the papers work noting the terms did not match what they agreed. He said he was told the documents had nothing to do with him and were simply between the bank and the dealership to release the vehicle.

However, Aliwaiwi was contacted a week later, according to documents, by the lending agency, Santander, explaining the terms of the agreement he signed. Aliwaiwi, who owns a Tampa smoke shop, said he contacted the dealership asking to return the car in exchange for his $10,000 down payment back to no avail. He also physically went to the dealership asking the same and was reportedly told to leave the premises with the use of “expletives.”

Since that time, Santander has requested the additional $4,000 down payment and higher monthly payments. The car was repossessed on Jan. 11. Aliwaiwi is seeking damages including attorney’s fees for fraud associated with the sale.

This isn’t the first time Aliwaiwi’s name has appeared in court documents. Two days before his car was repossessed, Aliwaiwi was arrested for two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. It’s unclear whether that arrest was related to the smoke shop Aliwaiwi owns.

In 2013, Aliwaiwi was also one of three merchants to sue Hillsborough County over its ban on sales of bath salts and synthetic marijuana — two items typically sold in head shops.

Because Aliwaiwi signed a contract obligating him to the car loan with interest, it doesn’t appear he has much of a case. His best chance seems to lie with the two friends he said were with him when purchasing the vehicle. They could serve as eyewitnesses to the alleged verbal agreement reached between Aliwaiwi and the car dealership.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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