Virginia Deceptive Trade Practices Laws


Provisions dealing with deceptive trade practices in Virginia are dealt with in the Code of Virginia under Title 59.1, Chapter 17 (Virginia Consumer Protection Act) Section 59.1-196 et seq. As enumerated in Section 59.1-200, advertising goods and services with the intent not to sell them as advertised are unlawful and prohibited.  According to Section 59.1-203, an Attorney General, any attorney for the Commonwealth, or the attorney for any city or county can bring an action in the appropriate circuit court in the name of the Commonwealth against any violators of the provisions of this Act.  Pursuant to Section 59.1-204, any person who suffers loss as a result of any violation of the provisions of this Act can recover actual damages or $500, whichever is greater.  If the trier of the fact finds that the violation was willful, then the damages awarded will increase to an amount not exceeding three times the actual damages sustained or $1000, whichever is greater.  The court may also order to pay a reasonable attorney fees including court costs as damages. According to Section 59.1-206, any person who sustained damages can recover a civil penalty of not more than $5000.  Attorney General who institutes a suit can recover any applicable civil penalty or penalties, costs, reasonable attorney fees.

According to Section 46.2-112 of Title 46.2 (Motor Vehicles), Subtitle I (General Provisions; Department of Motor Vehicles) Chapter 1 (General Provisions), it shall be unlawful to knowingly cause, either personally or through an agent, the changing, tampering with, disconnection, or non-connection of any odometer or similar device to indicate a wrongful mileage traveled by a motor vehicle.  Any person convicted of a violation of this Section shall for the first offence be fined not more than $10,000 and sentenced to a term of confinement in jail for not more than twelve months.  Any person convicted of a subsequent offence under this Section shall be fined not more than $50,000 and sentenced to a term of confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than one year and not more than five years.

Va. Code Ann. § 59.1-200

Prohibited practices
A. The following fraudulent acts or practices committed by a supplier in connection with a consumer transaction are hereby declared unlawful:
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7. Advertising or offering for sale goods that are used, secondhand, repossessed, defective, blemished, deteriorated, or reconditioned, or that are “seconds,” irregulars, imperfects, or “not first class,” without clearly and unequivocally indicating in the advertisement or offer for sale that the goods are used, secondhand, repossessed, defective, blemished, deteriorated, reconditioned, or are “seconds,” irregulars, imperfects or “not first class”;
8. Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised, or with intent not to sell at the price or upon the terms advertised.
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Va. Code Ann. § 59.1-203

Restraining prohibited acts
A. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, the Attorney General, any attorney for the Commonwealth, or the attorney for any city, county, or town may cause an action to be brought in the appropriate circuit court in the name of the Commonwealth, or of the county, city, or town to enjoin any violation of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1. The circuit court having jurisdiction may enjoin such violations notwithstanding the existence of an adequate remedy at law. In any action under this section, it shall not be necessary that damages be proved.
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C. The circuit courts are authorized to issue temporary or permanent injunctions to restrain and prevent violations of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1.
D. The Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, or his duly authorized representative, shall have the power to inquire into possible violations of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1, and, if necessary, to request, but not to require, an appropriate legal official to bring an action to enjoin such violation.

Va. Code Ann. § 59.1-204

Individual action for damages or penalty
A. Any person who suffers loss as the result of a violation of this chapter shall be entitled to initiate an action to recover actual damages, or $ 500, whichever is greater. If the trier of fact finds that the violation was willful, it may increase damages to an amount not exceeding three times the actual damages sustained, or $ 1,000, whichever is greater. Any person who accepts a cure offer under this chapter may not initiate or maintain any other or additional action based on any cause of action arising under any other statute or common law theory if such other action is substantially based on the same allegations of fact on which the action initiated under this chapter is based.
B. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, in addition to any damages awarded, such person also may be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs.
C. No cure offer shall be admissible in any proceeding initiated under this section, unless the cure offer is delivered by a supplier to the person claiming loss or to any attorney representing such person, prior to the filing of the supplier’s initial responsive pleading in such proceeding. If the cure offer is timely delivered by the supplier, then the supplier may introduce the cure offer into evidence at trial. The supplier shall not be liable for such person’s attorneys’ fees and court costs incurred following delivery of the cure offer unless the actual damages found to have been sustained and awarded, without consideration of attorneys’ fees and court costs, exceed the value of the cure offer.
D. In any action which the parties desire to settle all matters in dispute, the question of whether the plaintiff shall be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs in accordance with subsections B and C may be tendered to the court for consideration of the amount of such an award, if any.

Va. Code Ann. § 59.1-206

Civil penalties; attorney’s fees
A. In any action brought under this chapter, if the court finds that a person has willfully engaged in an act or practice in violation of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1, the Attorney General, the attorney for the Commonwealth, or the attorney for the county, city, or town may recover for the Literary Fund, upon petition to the court, a civil penalty of not more than $ 2,500 per violation. For purposes of this section, prima facie evidence of a willful violation may be shown when the Attorney General, the attorney for the Commonwealth, or the attorney for the county, city, or town notifies the alleged violator by certified mail that an act or practice is a violation of § 59.1-200 or 59.1-200.1, and the alleged violator, after receipt of said notice, continues to engage in the act or practice.
B. Any person who willfully violates the terms of an assurance of voluntary compliance or an injunction issued under § 59.1-203 shall forfeit and pay to the Literary Fund a civil penalty of not more than $ 5,000 per violation. For purposes of this section, the circuit court issuing an injunction shall retain jurisdiction, and the cause shall be continued, and in such cases the Attorney General, the attorney for the Commonwealth, or the attorney for the county, city, or town may petition for recovery of civil penalties.
C. In any action pursuant to subsection A or B and in addition to any other amount awarded, the Attorney General, the attorney for the Commonwealth, or the attorney for the county, city, or town may recover any applicable civil penalty or penalties, costs, reasonable expenses incurred by the state or local agency in investigating and preparing the case not to exceed $ 1,000 per violation, and attorney’s fees. Such civil penalty or penalties, costs, reasonable expenses, and attorney’s fees shall be paid into the general fund of the Commonwealth or of the county, city, or town which such attorney represented.
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Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-112

Tampering with odometer; penalty; civil liability
A. It shall be unlawful to knowingly cause, either personally or through an agent, the changing, tampering with, disconnection, or nonconnection of any odometer or similar device designed to show by numbers or words the distance which a motor vehicle has traveled or the use it has sustained.
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E. Any person convicted of a violation of the provisions of subsections A through D of this section shall, for a first offense, be fined not more than $ 10,000 and sentenced to a term of confinement in jail for not more than twelve months, either or both. Any person convicted of a subsequent offense under this section shall be fined not more than $ 50,000 and sentenced to a term of confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than one year nor more than five years, either or both, for each offense if the offense is committed with the intent thereby to defraud another. Each violation of this section shall constitute a separate offense.
F. Any person who with intent to defraud violates subsection A or B of this section shall be liable in a civil action in an amount equal to three times the amount of actual damages sustained or $ 1,500, whichever is greater. In the case of a successful action to enforce the foregoing liability, the costs of the action, together with reasonable attorney fees as determined by the court, shall be assessed against the person committing the violation. An action under this subsection shall be brought within two years from the date on which liability arises. For the purpose of this subsection, liability arises when the injured party discovers, or with due diligence should have discovered, the violation.