AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Self-driving cars may be on their way, but the FBI is wary of the technology and has legitimate concerns.
In 2009, an FBI agent tasked with transporting a seized Ferrari F50 failed to safely deliver the cargo, instead wrecking the vehicle and sparking a fight with the vehicle’s insurance company.
Now, a Ferrari F50 that seems to match the description, seen in the gallery below, of the car originally stolen from a dealership in Philadelphia is up for auction and only bid thus far up to $65,000.
That’s quite a discount from the $750,000 price tag the F50 would carry without its present injuries. Still, repairing a Ferrari is anything but a poor man’s path to performance, expect to spend an awful lot of money to have anything remotely close to the original car.
Vehicle Inspection Pros, a group that works with the auction company selling the F50, charges $150 just to tell you what’s wrong with the car. While that’s peanuts to anyone buying a car, the body damage looks severe enough to warrant serious repair bills.
Unless spending more than $65,000 on something that might just be a scrap heap appeals to you, there are much better exotic options. Sure it’s not an F50, but if Ferraris are your thing there are about 100 Ferrari 360 Modena’s on Ebay right now within that price range.
GALLERY: Wrecked Ferrari F50
It’s becoming commonplace to do all your shopping online. But as we become more comfortable with making an online purchase, we also need to be wary of new scams. And if you’re planning on buying a car, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center is warning shoppers that scams using the names of well-known automotive sites are on the rise.
According to the FBI, these types of scams were up 25 percent in 2010. Here’s how it works: These scams lure car buyers using a popular site, such as Craigslist, to post a fake listing that promises vehicle protection program from a site such as eBay. The scam even uses eBay’s official logo to make it look legit. Once contact has been made, the scam seller asks the buyer to wire money to them. There’s no car, and that’s the last the buyer ever sees of the money … the scam seller is gone. Someone falls for this scam every 90 minutes, and every hour, a perspective car buyer loses more than $1,000.
You can protect yourself against this kind of scam. Here are a few tips:
- Go see the car: Never buy a car sight unseen. Go in person to check the car’s mileage and condition, and be sure to review the title and the car’s history.
- Do a background check. While you’re doing your online research, be sure to check out the seller’s ratings and comments from past buyers. Always insist on talking with them on the phone or through a secure web site.
- Pay in person wire services. Never use wire services. Always pay in person and get a receipt.
If you come across one of these car-buying scams online, you can file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
You don’t mess with GM, as a car salesman and a trucking company owner found out recently. They’ve been charged by the FBI for allegedly selling more than 200 Hummers overseas with phony titles and collecting more than $500,000 in unearned incentives from General Motors.
Steve Romshek, a former salesman at the Huber dealership in Omaha (that’s the one that sold the Hummers), has been arrested, while Marilyn Maskill, owner of an Overland Park, Kan., trucking company, hasn’t been arrested yet. According to an Associated Press report, the crafty pair sold the Hummers in 2005 and 2006 to a small broker in Chillicothe, Mo. The Hummers were then resold overseas and exported to Nigeria, Germany, Canada, Japan, just to name a few countries. With the fraudulent titles, they were able to pocket more than $500,000 in unearned incentives from General Motors – and that’s money they shouldn’t have been eligible to collect. In total, the pair is facing 11 counts of wire fraud and one charge of conspiracy.
As for the Huber dealership, they cooperated with FBI investigators and settled things General Motors and regulators a few years back. They also had to pay a $100,000 fine to a state licensing board, but admitted no wrongdoing. It’s interesting to note that this fine was the largest ever handed down by the Nebraska Vehicle Industry Licensing Board.
It’s still unknown whether or not the couple who owned the Missouri car brokerage will be charged. They could be on the hook, as they bought more than 200 Hummers from Huber in 2005 and 2006.
We’ll keep you posted when we hear of any further developments. Until then, don’t try to mess with GM – they mean business and apparently have the FBI’s number on speed dial!
[Source: USA Today]
You know it’s a good story when there’s a prequel. Not long ago, a Ferrari F50 that was stolen from a dealership, then later recovered by the FBI, and then crashed by two FBI agents (if not, you can familiarize yourself with the back story here) When we last left the saga, the insurance company was trying to get its money back from the FBI for the smashed (and worthless) Ferrari.
Here’s how it all started. Tom Baker, an airline pilot, really wanted a Ferrari, but like the rest of us, just couldn’t afford it. But he really, really wanted it – so, he decided to get want he wanted by breaking the law. Baker didn’t start with the 1996 Ferrari F50. He started with a 1989 Ferrari 328 GTS, taking it for a test drive from a North Carolina dealership and never bringing it back. Next, he conned a Long Island dealer out of a 1985 Ferrari Testarossa.
But most impressive was his skill with taking the F50. Want to know how he did it? He walked into the Philadelphia dealership, without a driver’s license, and claimed he was the CEO of a California tech firm. He had just flown in from Atlanta, he said, to make a down payment on the posh ride after taking it for a test drive.
After getting the keys and taking off, no one saw it again until 2008, when FBI agents seized it from the Kentucky emergency room doctor Baker had sold it to. (Side note: the “poor” doctor had reported the car stolen after checking the VIN against Ferrari’s records, and lost both the car and the $375,000 he had paid Baker).
From here, the story takes an odd plot twist. Baker comes back into the picture to buy the car back from the doctor, in an attempt to cover his tracks. The FBI arrested Baker, notified the insurance company that the car had been found and the F50 was put into storage. You know the rest: two FBI agents, who allegedly moved the car from one storage facility to another, totalled the car by smashing it into tree. Motors Insurance Group now wants the FBI to pay them the total amount of what they had paid the dealership for the lost car. And, rightfully so, they want to know what the two agents were doing driving the car.
The matter is still waiting to make its way through the courts. And, we can smell a sequel in the works – nobody knows where the totalled F50 is.
In a strange (and kind of funny) twist, the FBI and Justice department are being sued for crashing a $750,000 Ferrari F50. But how did they come in possession of a car like this? That’s were the story gets interesting.
Back in 2003 the Ferrari F50 had been reported stolen from a dealership in Pennsylvania, which was then paid out by Motors Insurance Corp., making the insurance company the new owner of the missing car. To everyone’s surprise, the car was actually recovered in August 2008 by the FBI, and they subsequently stored it to use to prosecute the thief.
Unfortunately, in May 2009, FBI Special Agent Frederick C. Kingston was transporting the pricey Italian exotic and crashed it into a tree and when Motors Insurance Corp. found out, they sent the FBI and Justice Department a bill for $750,000. The bill was rejected by the agencies – they claimed the damage happened while the car was being detained by the FBI in the course of an investigation. Another claim that was filed in September of 2010 was also rejected.
Trying to get a handle on the accident, the insurance company filed to receive information regarding the crash through the Freedom of Information Act. Unfortunately, it seems like the FBI really doesn’t want to pay for the car, because that request was denied (“federal exemptions” being given as the reason).
The insurance company did receive an email from Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson on the day of the crash, which stated that the FBI agent took the F50 for a “short ride” in which he lost control and “fishtailed and slid sideways” only seconds after leaving the warehouse.
Do you think the FBI has a responsibility to pay the $750,000 bill or should the insurance company just forget about ever seeing any kind of compensation for the Justice Department? Let us know in the comment section below.
[Source: The Detroit News]