Auto Scam Victims Receive 6 Cents for Every Dollar Lost |CITY|
Submitted by dan. on 2007-03-15 20:44.
Victims of one of the largest automotive scams in U.S. history soon could receive restitution checks that will pay only about 6 cents for every dollar they lost. A federal judge in Kansas City this week approved a payment plan in the so-called Miracle Cars case that would distribute about $930,000 in restitution funds among about 2,300 victims.
Robert Gomez and James Nichols, two former California security
guards, sold more than $21 million worth of nonexistent cars to
churchgoers who thought they were getting bargains from the estate of a
wealthy Christian. Convicted in Kansas City in 2003, both were
sentenced to more than 21 years in prison. Two others, Gwendolyn Baker
and Corinne Conway, also pleaded guilty... .
After the defendants were sentenced, investigators began identifying victims, contacting them directly, by mail and through e-mail. While Gomez and Nichols paid some refunds during the scam to pacify unhappy victims, prosecutors have verified $14.6 million in outstanding claims... .
About $819,000 of the restitution fund came from poker chips recovered from Gomez on his arrest at a California casino or seized from his home later. The rest came from the sale of jewelry, sports memorabilia, real estate and vehicles that investigators seized from the defendants.
How can RJ City respond to the problem of fraud, to the large losses by victims, and the relatively small amounts recovered from offenders? One way, of course, is to inform its residents so that they are less vulnerable to scam artists. Les Henderson, a Canadian, has developed a remarkable website on what he calls "Crimes of Persuasion" with extensive sections on various schemes as well as several pages on the problems of obtaining restitution.
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