eBay Used Car Seller TopsAndWheels AKA Tropical Automotive, operated by Lisandra Gutierrez, listed as the business owner, and her husband, Anthony Zafarino, face multiple fraud and grand theft charges, including aggravated white collar crime.
The couple is accused of raking in approximately $300,000 from lenders, a partnering car dealer and unsuspecting car buyers across the country looking for an online deal.
As investigators delved into the case last summer, they noted 33 complaints against Tropical Automotive logged with the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles. Fleeced buyers came from states such as Ohio, Virginia, Massachusetts, Oregon, California, Texas, Indiana and Alabama, authorities said. The couple showed “a callous disregard” for customers, Stephenson said.
In one case, an Oregon buyer was sold a 2014 Mercedes Benz belonging to someone in Atlanta who never offered the car for sale, detectives said. The $69,000 transaction was never refunded, an arrest warrant said.
Benton, who purchased the Camaro on eBay Motors in July, said the car was meant to just be a toy he would enjoy before losing his mobility. It reminded him of healthier, youthful years that he wanted to relive, however briefly.
He put a $500 deposit on his credit card and wired the rest of the $9,169 purchase price. But before the Camaro was shipped to his Ohio home, the transporting company informed Benton there was trouble with the title and that the car’s odometer had been tinkered with. He canceled the sale and asked for a refund, but he was never repaid after multiple attempts to reach the company and later threatening to contact authorities, Benton said.
“A legitimate business would have used that opportunity to reach out to the customer and get things right in a hurry, but they went silent,” he said. “I knew there was trouble.” More details are here on sun-sentinal.com.
The quoted partial article above was published on 06/15/16. But we also found this WordPress website “mybaddealfromtropicalautomotive” that has been up since at least 2014. This is an indication that law enforcement and Florida DMV have been investigating Lisandra Gutierrez and Anthony Zafarino, and possibly other individuals in south east Florida for some time gathering evidence.
This situation appears to us that, Lisandra Gutierrez and Anthony Zafarino were living large and it caught up with them. Their alleged eBay Motors feedback was mostly good for some time. Living large then going out of trust can snowball to an avalanche of trouble that damages everyone involved, and can end up with prison time for the accused.
It’s important to remember when buying or selling automobiles online not to trust in what an advertisement claims. Do not believe what the buyer / seller is saying when dealing in big ticket items such as motor vehicles.
Craigslist attracts fraudsters because it’s loosely managed and free. And this is not intended to be a shot at eBay, but simply put, the venue only sells advertising space on it’s website. Vehicle Sellers are not ID Verified, so it’s once strong trust in trading partners and community values is not like it was years ago. eBay Motors is really nothing more than a classified website, like auto trader, cars, etc.
When buying a car online do your homework FIRST! Verify the seller has clear title for the car. Verify seller is the registered owner (if buying from private party seller), and the VIN on the title matches the cars VIN Plate. It’s a tough internet out there, fraudsters lie waiting on the road ahead to steal your money! And most important, have the car inspected! If you do not have the vehicle inspected before finalizing the deal, you might not be happy with what you receive.