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Are you looking for a car broker? Be careful! H. Dennis Beaver

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Many people want to avoid the hassles of selling or buying a vehicle. They hire an auto broker, who acts as a middleman and handles all the details.

You tell them what you want, and they will find it for you for a flat fee, which can sometimes be a percentage of the selling price. This is often better than you could negotiate. They send the paperwork to the dealer, who will deliver the car to your house or office.

People who have an RV that they owe money and wish to sell it might consign it with a broker. The broker will pay off the loan with the sale proceeds, deduct a commission, give the title to the buyer, and remit the balance to the customer. Everyone is happy when the buyer registers their RV.

This is how dealing with an automobile broker should work. It usually does. Going sour by an auto broker can result in millions of dollars being lost, fraudsters being sent to prison and years of pain for customers who have trusted them.

One of them is Ralph Bush, 87, of Arroyo Grande. He had the unfortunate experience of meeting the owner of a Clovis-based company in 2017.

Bush stated that he had previously purchased cars from them and was always treated properly. He also added, “And, famous last words. I never had nor expected to have a problem.”

That all would change when he purchased a 2017 Toyota Tacoma from Toyota Scion of Hollywood through the broker for $33,000.

Bush would soon discover that there is a first for everything. This includes membership in a club for victims of fraud. Although Hollywood gave the Tacoma to Bush and Clovis never paid them,

A scheme to rip off customers and banks

According to court documents, the $2 million-plus fraud indictment:

Radtke devised a scheme to defraud customers and banks, which he began in January 2016. He was paid upfront by customers or their banks but did not give the money to the dealers. He used it for business and personal purposes.

“Additionally, the customer signed his name on loan applications and sale documents. This led to banks issuing loans without customers’ authorization or knowledge. It involved at least 47 cars and more than two million dollars in theft.”

One California DMV investigator I spoke to described the company owner as a “one-man crime wave,” facing 98 charges including grand theft, forgery, and identity theft. He also faces theft from the elderly.

His trial was put on hold due to COVID. We are still waiting for justice. Guess who is still on bail?

Be patient and wait for the check to clear.

Bush called the Toyota dealer to inquire why he hadn’t received registration and title in time.

Imagine Toyota of Hollywood’s management sitting at a conference table, with this sales order to deliver the new Tacoma 2017 to Bush in Arroyo Grande.

Joseph, a potential new hire, might say, “But boss! We haven’t received it yet. Shouldn’t we wait? Contact Mr. Bush to find out if he paid using an e-check that he can suspend payment until this matter is resolved.” Something’s wrong! This is not right!

His manager replied, “Naw. They always pay us,”

And that is precisely the problem. Crooked auto brokers often crater within a few months. Dealers rely on a history ‘always getting paid’ to avoid the prudent business practice. While it is common sense, many car dealers are driven by one word: SALES. The DMV investigator stated that.

Damon Culbertson is the president/general manager at Mercedes Benz Bakersfield. I asked him how he deals with these situations.

“Autobrokers only release vehicles when the check clears or the loan company has funded it. We have our money.”

Who takes the loss?

Bush owned a car that he could insure but not register. This is theft, but his homeowner’s insurance does not cover it.

Bob Brennan, a nationally respected Lemon Lawyer in Los Angeles, ran the facts. He replied, “Contractually, you have to question who must assume risk by what they failed do.” The Toyota Scion of Hollywood released the car without being paid. They must also have known that Mr. Bush had hired the broker to do it.

“This is theft. They might have insurance, but they could eliminate their loss by refusing delivery of the car. This would have been a great help to Mr. Bush. I believe they should give him the title and registration for the vehicle. He is the innocent one in this situation.

Toyota Scion of Hollywood was my first response. My reader retained Erin Stratte of Wade Law Group in Los Gatos, a compassionate lawyer.

In her correspondence to Hollywood Toyota’s lawyer, she repeated my analysis. Bush was granted title and registration in Tacoma in February 2022.

What’s the point of five years? This can all be avoided if you don’t feel the need to make a sale.

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FICS, SPARK, Axcess Consulting Group, Tavant Tech, Byte Software, PCLender, and Ellie Mae

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