ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESS RELEASE
Case # 00753194
Date: July 17, 2015
SANTA ANA, Calif. – An Irvine-based Internet sales company accused of selling a bogus car performance chip nationwide agreed yesterday, July 16, 2015, to shut down their business, pay $400,000 in civil penalties, and restitution to any complaining customers. In a civil consumer prosecution lawsuit filed by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) on Oct. 28, 2014, GFORCE CHIPS (GFORCE) was accused of committing unlawful business practices and engaging in false advertising by marketing their product as a car-performance chip to increase fuel efficiency among other claims.
In the settlement, GFORCE and its owner, 32-year-old Ravi Ghataode, agreed to shut down the business and be permanently enjoined from ever operating a business that sells any device that claims to affect gas mileage, horsepower, or emissions. The defendants admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement agreement.
The settlement now awaits approval by Orange County Superior Court Judge James J. Di Cesare. If entered by the court, the settlement mandates Ghataode reimburse all customers that have complained about the chip in the last four years. The settlement also provides for reimbursement to anyone who complains to the OCDA or GFORCE within 90 days after entry of the settlement by the court. If you are a consumer that purchased a GFORCE chip and either never received your merchandise or your requested refund, or you would like to lodge a complaint and get your money back, please contact the OCDA Consumer Fraud Hotline at (714) 834-6553.
In the lawsuit filed by the OCDA, GFORCE was accused of the following:
They falsely advertised on the business website that their product was a performance chip and fraudulently sold an elaborately packaged circuit board that contained no software. They made false claims and fabrications about the company on their website, including who founded the company, when it was founded, its location, and who made or engineered the product. They sold chips to hundreds of thousands of consumers nationwide at $69 each, earning millions of dollars by falsely advertising that the chip had software on it specifically programmed for the purchasers’ car, down to the make, model and year, and that once the product was installed in the car’s engine, it would substantially increase gas mileage by four to seven miles per gallon, reduce emissions by 25 to 40 percent, and increase the horsepower of the car by 30 to 60 horsepower.
The OCDA began investigating this case after receiving consumer complaints and learned through its investigation that hundreds of complaints had been filed with the Better Business Bureau, various Internet blogs, and GFORCE.
This was the second time in the past four years that Ghataode had been sued for unlawful business practices and false advertising by the OCDA (Case #00471262). Ghataode was ordered in 2011 by the court not to engage in such acts and practices, after settling a prior consumer fraud lawsuit.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put out consumer warnings regarding such devices that claim to save fuel and increase vehicle performance. According to the FTC warning, despite evaluating and /or testing more than 100 alleged gas-saving devices, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not found any product that significantly improves gas mileage, and may even damage a car’s engine or substantially increase exhaust emissions. The EPA has tested hundreds of these types of devices and has not found any that support the claims GFORCE was making.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Cipolletti from the Consumer Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.
TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff