Man gets more than 5 years in prison for running classic car scam

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A man will spend more than 5 years after pleading guilty to running a classic car scam featuring cars from the '60s and '70s. | Pixabay photo
A man will spend more than 5 years after pleading guilty to running a classic car scam featuring cars from the '60s and '70s. | Pixabay photo

A Los Angeles man was sentenced to more than five years in prison Thursday for running a classic car scam, the United States Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Shakir McNeal, 45, pleaded guilty to posting cars for sale from the 1960s and ’70s on various websites, such as Craigslist, but had no intention of delivering the cars to the buyers. The cars were listed on Craigslist sites in Minneapolis, Albuquerque, Chattanooga, Los Angeles, Omaha, Peoria and Atlanta.

McNeal and several co-conspirators — Anthony V. Newton, Shaquana K. Taylor, Dewrel L. Burleson — used various email accounts and phone numbers that they would abandon after getting a buyer’s money. They also used multiple bank accounts.

The attorney’s office said McNeal and the others stole a total of $143,675 from 14 victims.

McNeal pleaded guilty in November. He was scheduled to be sentenced in February but was placed on bond to visit his ailing mother.  He failed to show up to his sentencing and a warrant was issued.

McNeal was arrested June 12 in Los Angeles. McNeal’s sentence came about one week after the United States Attorney’s Office charged 25 people in another classic car scam that allegedly swindled $4.5 million from victims.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

15 COMMENTS

  1. You have to be very careful about buying vehicles on line. I do it in person, or have someone I trust go there and look at the vehicle, pay for it, put it on the trailer and bring it home.

    You can tell the fake scams on Craigslist, because either the language in the description doesn’t make sense, the photos have been copied and are rough/digitized on the edges or they use the same email response about how their husband recently died and they need to get rid of it for a ridiculous amount, but the bike or car is at the shipping station etc.

  2. Nearly $150k and he only got 5 years? Multiple grand theft charges should have been charged…like 14…1 for each victim!

  3. My compliments to the editor and publisher of these stories regarding Classic Car Scams.

    I feel somewhat sympathetic towards the customers that have been ‘ Duped ‘ and/or scammed. However, how is it possible that customers in the 21 Century can be so naïve. If you want to purchase a vehicle at a distance, involve a 3rd party to verify the authenticity of the vehicle available, have the service provider undertake an complete and proper inspection and coordinate its delivery. I believe the whole process would be less than $1,000 for this service. Further, a new buyer would need to arrange for insurance either through the delivery company and or a separate 3rd party insurer. The whole scenario is sad…… very sad, certainly but avoidable !

  4. I would never exchange money without seeing the car I wanted to purchase.I traveled 2200 miles one way to see the car I purchased, even though it was less than fifteen thousand dollars. My wife and I ended up spending most of the day with the owner and even took him to lunch. On the other hand I traveled 500 miles to a national retail showroom and was treated poorly and therefore did not buy a car. I have learned a lot since joining the car hobby.

    • Five years you got to be kidding.he should have to work it off.hope the five years is hard labor or just put him in a room with the people he scammed for a hour

    • I have exposed several scams, recently. The pictures and description that appeared in the ads (and yes, on classicCar.com) were copied from other sites (and visa-versa). The asking price (too low but enticing) should be the first tell tail that the add is a scam. The "story" (car located in a storage facility in a city far from you, previous arrangement to sell and ship car to friend overseas fell through, seller in financial situation, etc…) is also a give away that something isn’t right. The promise that a third party will handle the transfer of funds, title transfer and shipping from a different location than the seller or car’s location should set off alarm bells. In one instance, the seller said the car was in storage in my city (seller asked what city I lived in, but I did not provide the information). When I responded that I would like to see the car, as it was in my city, the seller disappeared like a fart in the wind. On another occasion, I googled the name the seller was using and found several reports of suspected scam and stories that were identical to the experience I had. I have purchased cars on line, but only after vetting the seller, their business and the car. I speak with the seller, numerous times, to confirm their car story, reason for selling, etc… to ensure the information is consistent over time. If the seller gets huffy, then I back off and look elsewhere. When you are thinking of spending your hard earned money, you have every right to demand an honest exchange. The scammers will try and bluff their way around the truth, change their stories, even switch the web site the car is listed on. It would be great if the various web sites had some kind of vetting service or required the seller to provide information that helped verify the seller as "authentic" (need a new job ?). Bottom line, if it doesn’t pass the sniff test, look elsewhere. Become knowledgeable about the type of car you are interested in purchasing; look at similar cars for sale prices, condition etc… Be prepared to ask questions about anything and everything about the car, a real seller will be glad to share his car’s story with you.

  5. Craigslist Los Angeles had for several weeks an ad for a near-classic 1997 Jaguar XK8. Nice photos, supposed great condition and a below-market price that varied between $5500 to $3500 and in-between. Often wondered why such a nice deal never sold. When I sold my Datsun 280ZX, called the number. Guy hung up on me, texted back and wanted to communicate that way. Figured right then it was a scam (or the car was for real but not like the one pictured). Caveat emptor.

  6. Buyer Beware!
    I see many ‘for sales’ of a single model of classic car. I’m interested in listed on any of the classic car websites. I give feedback to the websites what I believe is a problem but no changes are seen. There are people running ads stating cars are located in a particular city. When I try to see the cars someone contacts me to say their cars are located nationwide. Why would anyone post their car for sale, indicate a State it is located, but buyers call and learn it not available.

    The most obvious is a new marketer saying they have been in business for years… and cars are kept at different locations for security… but they assure to have the car you are interested in available to you.

    Then this morning I read about LA based classic car frauds run over email in the millions received from people trusting they will receive a classic car. What possibly could these buyers be thinking? I’ve received the fraud emails as well and it is so blatantly obvious.

    Buyer Beware!

  7. People will do anything too get over on someone today . good example; the change dispenser at most convenient store ( machine that counts out your change so the clerk is faster ) well I’ve been counting my change every time and found out i was shorted 1 out of three times . i started too tell people at stores randomly and most said they never count it just grab and go. One week ( if i hadn’t of checked) i would have been shorted $4.75 that don’t sound like much but watch how many people go into a popular gas station and it turns into a very very big profit ! Every where we turn thier is something or someone who will try too get over on you it’s becoming the American way….

  8. What happened to the other co-conspirators? And I agree, a 5 yer sentence is nothing compared to the crime committed.

  9. Besides the online issue, it would be nice if there were some sort of an organization that could rate the experience level of mechanics when it comes to working on older classic cars. There seems to be plenty out there that will over promise and under deliver and pricing is all over the place. Let me know if I am missing something but the accountability seems to be lacking.

  10. Craigslist, northern Michigan. Just saw a scam post, again it was obvious. A 1970 Plymouth Charger R/T, mint condition, $19,000. The vehicle feature description was "Exactly" like one I saw on a Classic Car website, word for word and even the exact same picture, for $60,000. I wanted to mess with the scammer and called his phone. Never answered

  11. The real problem is that the online sites have no accountability. Once that changes, the scammers will be properly vetted out for fear of legal retaliation. All scammers AND those who support them deserve jail time!

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