Student’s $17,600 graduation gift turns into nightmare in Broward

Mother tries to get savings back after Cars N Trucks goes out of business in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A couple said that what was supposed to be a graduation present for their daughter turned into a nightmare.

They paid Cars N Trucks, a car dealer in Hollywood, $17,600 in cash, and their daughter Angelina Zambrano posed for photos with her first car.

“It’s just something that we were all excited about,” Angelina said.

But when the blue four-door hatchback vanished, all the Zambrano family had left were the pictures.

“It was just shocking,” Angelina said. “I feel like everyone has an emotional attachment to their car and all of my things are gone, inside of that car.”

Her mother, Amparo Zambrano, said she and her husband started saving for Angelina’s first car when she was in elementary school. She said the dealer never gave them the title and went out of business.

“I have no car for my daughter. My money was gone. I have nothing,” the distraught mother said.

After months passed, and the dealer didn’t release the title of the car, Amparo Zambrano said she talked to Camilo Sierra, who identified himself as the Cars N Trucks finance manager, who told her the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles was “running behind.”

“Just trust me, wait,” Sierra said, according to Zambrano.

A few weeks later, Angelina parked the car in front of their home, as she had been doing for months, and when she went out to drive it — it was gone. Angelina said that at first, she thought that she had been the victim of a carjacker.

The Zambrano family later learned the car had been repossessed by the car dealer’s lien holder, and when Zambrano drove to the car dealership she learned that it had gone out of business, and Sierra was gone.

“I was crying in my car because ... you feel like lost,” Zambrano said.

Victor Sierra, the general manager and owner of the car dealership, and his wife Sofia Gasperi, first said they would look into the problem, but they never responded and stopped communicating with Local 10 News.

“The people from the dealer, they disappeared,” Zambrano said.

To protect consumers, Florida requires car dealers to get a bond from an insurance company, so they can be licensed. Once Zambrano learned about this consumer protection, she filed a claim.

“I am crossing my fingers that I can get at least the money back,” Zambrano said. “Before I was hopeless, now I can see the light in the dark.”

Zambrano also didn’t know that before it went out of business Cars N Trucks had a D rating with the Better Business Bureau.

About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.