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Friday, 13 May 2022 15:36

Florida Classic Car Dealer Charged with Fraud

Written by Steven Symes, Motorious

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There’s no denying the classic car market is red hot. People who admittedly aren’t gearheads have been investing, driving values up for many vehicles, much to the frustration of enthusiasts.

Just as concerning is how fraud seems to be increasingly common. One of the latest prominent examples comes out of Florida, where a father and son who ran a classic car dealership were arrested and charged with racketeering and fraud in April.

 

Michael Smith Sr. and Michael Smith Jr. ran Just Toys Classic Cars in Orange County. Customers would consign their vehicles, leaving them behind in hopes the father and son would track down a buyer with plenty of cash. The dealership then took a cut, passing the majority of the money to the owners. However, quite a few people said they never saw a red cent.

 

Investigators said they found customers were provided with a lot of excuses why they weren’t receiving their money. This happened over and over---officials said there were 21 vehicles owned by 20 different individuals involved. The total amount owed to these customers was $614,000.

 

Eventually, this behavior caught up with Just Toys Classic Cars. In October 2019, it lost its dealer’s license. Then the business closed its doors permanently in December of the same year.

 

However, that doesn’t mean those jilted customers got their money. Instead, an investigator concluded the Smiths seemingly had “no intention of providing payment to the victims.” That cash apparently went toward business debts, to pay off lawyers, and into both personal and business accounts associated with the Smiths. Not surprisingly, both father and son had the cash to bond out of jail.

 

Ultimately, this case highlights that you still need to be careful and do your research when dealing with classic car dealerships. Some unfortunately aren’t reputable, so don’t be overly trusting.

 

We thank Motorious for reprint permission.