We really hate hearing about these kinds of things…
The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia disclosed that Ricky V. McLaughlin, who operated McLaughlin Motor Car Museum in Parkersburg, WV, has been sentenced by a judge to 87 months in prison. McLaughlin was on trial for what prosecutors said was a wire fraud scheme designed to defraud people who wanted to buy classic cars from the museum.
A man robbed a bank during a test drive, then returned to buy the car with the stolen cash. Read all about it here.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, for over 4 years McLaughlin stole money and defrauded 17 different customers of over $1 million. In court filings, it was detailed out how the man would buy, restore, then sell classic cars, particularly Pontiac Trans Ams. However, at least some customers never received the car or the title after making payment.
Even worse, prosecutors alleged McLaughlin would sometimes sell the same car to multiple customers. In a scheme we’ve also seen, he would sell vehicles which were on consignment, then refuse to send the sale proceeds to the owners.
In addition to serving over 7 years in prison, McLaughlin has been ordered to pay over $700,000 in restitution to his victims. Obviously, that amount doesn’t cover all the money lost, so not everyone will be made financially whole.
If you’re not infuriated reading about this case, likely you haven’t been swindled or know someone who has. These sorts of schemes happen far too often, so it’s great to hear about this man facing consequences. It also highlights the value of working with established classic car dealers which have known reputations. You might pay a little more than for the “sweet” deal through another place, but you’ll actually get the car without having to go to court and engage in an expensive, exhausting legal battle.
No matter how you’re purchasing a classic car, or any vehicle, always proceed with caution. It seems the schemes have only increased recently, so do all you can to not become the next victim.