HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – An elderly Georgia couple tells Local 10 News they have been ripped off.
They paid a South Florida car dealership $15,000 for a hard-to-find Lexus. And while the dealer cashed the check weeks ago, they have no car and no answers.
They sent the check to Dream Auto Collection weeks ago. Not only do they not have the car they paid for, but they say the sales manager stopped responding to their demand for a refund.
Dream Auto Collection is located at 3837 Pembroke Road in Hollywood.
The dealer’s website says, “We don’t sell cars, we sell a dream.” Jeanne Clark and her husband Steve Hawes call it more like a nightmare.
“I want my money back,” Clark said.
Hawes adds, “I feel like we are being taken advantage of.”
All Clark wanted was to replace her current 2001 Lexus LS with the same car. But finding a 22-year-old Lexus LS with low mileage isn’t easy.
She explains, “I have been looking for months and months and months for a car like this, with this specific interior, and that is why I was willing to jump in and take a chance because I haven’t been able to find this car.”
This elderly couple,from Acworth, Georgia saw a 2003 Lexus on Dream Auto Collection’s website. They thought they’d hit the jackpot.
They said they spoke with a man named Sebastian Merfea.
“He sold us the car over the phone and said the car would be delivered to us the day the check cleared,” Hawes said. “So my wife wrote a check for $15,000 and sent it down there.”
The check cleared.
Turns out, according to records, as this couple was making the deal, Sebastian was selling the car and delivering it to someone else. Just days after Dream Auto cashed Jeanne’s check, the car was registered to another person in Kennesaw, Georgia.
Sebastian texted the couple with this story on Aug. 6 after the Lexus had already been delivered to the other party.
“He said they were loading it on the truck and noticed a problem with the power steering. That was going to cost, according to him, $5,000 to fix,” Hawes said. ”He said he would have another car for us, and that was the start of the fiasco because it was one car after another, after another.”
Local 10 News called their fellow Georgian who actually bought and got the Lexus. He told them there was no power steering issue, the car is fine.
When Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier went to the dealership, a man named Alex said the couple’s claims are “impossible,” denying them outright.
Alex said he’s the part-owner of Dream Auto and Best Car N Care, with a location in Brooklyn as well. He put Sebastian on the phone.
“Sebastian, please tell me, where is the vehicle?” he asked.
Looks like someone may be busted.
“We are going to sort this out,” Alex said.
“You know anything about this?” Weinsier asked.
“I don’t know anything about this,” he replied.
Alex said Sebastian works in New York.
“I’m going to sort this out today,” Alex said.
Jeanne and Steve did hear from Dream and demanded a refund — a cashier’s check — ASAP.
The couple has also filed a police report with Hollywood police. Local 10 News advised them to contact the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, who licenses and investigates dealerships.
If this Georgia couple had done better internet research, they may not be in this position.