A North Georgia car dealer was arrested Tuesday following a state investigation into claims he scammed dozens of customers by not reporting his sales, Channel 2 Action News reported.
Mitch Simpson, who ran a dealership in White County, was arrested on three counts of felony theft by conversion, but officials with the Georgia Department of Revenue said additional charges are expected.
Several of his customers told the news station that months after purchasing their vehicles at Mitch Simpson Motors in Cleveland, they hadn’t received their tags or titles and couldn’t get in touch with the man who sold them the vehicles. The customers who reported problems were those who paid cash for their vehicles or used Simpson’s in-house financing, according to Channel 2.
“We suspect that he was not just taking the buyers’ money, but also floor-planning the same car multiple times,” said Josh Waites, the Department of Revenue’s director of special investigations. “In this case, he would lien them multiple times and then never send the money in to release them.”
Floor-planning is a type of fraud in which car dealers do not immediately report their sales to keep extra cash in their pocket.
Investigators said many of Simpson’s customers paid their vehicle taxes when they bought their cars, but they never received proof because he never reported those sales to the state.
Simpson’s business closed its doors in mid-February and an online search for the dealership says it is “permanently closed.”
“We’ve got over $30,000 in this truck now, and we don’t even know if it’s ours,” said Justin Mathis, a Blairsville man who bought a truck from Simpson in December.
Waites said his department is working with the dealership’s bonding company and the attorney general’s office to get the customers’ taxes paid and their vehicles registered.
Simpson remains in the White County jail without bond, records show.
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