Investigators from the state Department of Motor Vehicles arrested car broker Scott Radtke of Clovis for allegedly defrauding elderly customers and others, according to charges filed in Fresno.
Radtke, 55, owns California Motoring Co. in Clovis. He is a licensed car dealer who functions as a broker selling vehicles owned by others, especially car dealerships.
He was booked into the Fresno County Jail Monday and is being held in lieu of posting $681,000 bail.
About 17 car dealerships, 11 financial institutions and more than 48 customers lost $2.8 million due to Radtke’s wrongdoing, court documents said.
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The company produced a video in 2011 that includes Radtke introducing himself and the company:
Charges filed Monday in Fresno County Superior Court include three allegations of theft from an elder adult, and multiple counts of grand theft, fraud, forgery and check bouncing.
Starting in September 2016, the DMV received dozens of complaints from customers and car dealerships, according to court documents.
He was paid by customers or auto lending institutions, but many of the dealerships he worked with never got their money and the customers didn’t get their car titles and registrations, a DMV investigator said in a declaration.
Radtke would fraudulently fill out loan applications on cars already paid for using the names of customers without their knowledge. No motive was given in court documents.
At least three civil lawsuits have been filed in Fresno this year against Radtke by customers accusing him of deceit.
One lawsuit by an older couple in Sanger said they bought a car through him and left their old car as a trade-in. Radtke allegedly sold the trade-in and never gave them the money. He also kept the $48,000 they paid for the new car and tried to put them on a payment plan with a finance company.
Another lawsuit alleges a customer paid $75,000 cash for a car, but Radtke kept the money and put them on a payment plan without their knowledge.
Yet another lawsuit said a customer paid $47,000 for a vehicle owned by a car dealer in Fremont, but Radtke kept the money. The Fremont company contacted the customer and produced a sales contract in which the actual price was $53,000 and Radtke had forged the customer’s signature, according to the lawsuit.
One customer wrote to the Better Business Bureau in July saying no registration was received for a car purchased from Radtke in January.
“Last week, I called California Motoring Company again and asked why the registration was still not completed. I received an apology and was told that it would be taken care of immediately,” the July 11 complaint read. “I was also told that someone would be calling me back with a status. No one did. I called again later in the week to ask about it and left a message. Again, no one returned my call.”
Another customer left a review on Yelp saying they wrote a check for the full amount of a car at California Motoring and later found out the dealer that supplied the car was never paid. “Honestly, I would have paid a lot more money to a dealer just to avoid this company,” the review said.