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Toyota Dealer Scams Himself into Prison

Here’s a Toyota dealer who got sentenced to prison and some heavy fines after orchestrating an illegal Toyota buyback scam.


Buyback Program

In past articles we’ve learned about some of the tactics that car dealerships and used car sellers resort to, to scam car buyers out of their hard-earned dollars. Today, however, we will hear about how that a Toyota dealer---with the help of two accomplices---turned a buyback program into a profitable scam that earned them millions…and time in prison after being caught scamming Toyota itself.

Related article: Car Dealership Scam Warning

According to recent Steve Lehto YouTube Video, some unsavory characters got caught scamming Toyota manufacturing out of over $4 million through a dealer taking advantage of Toyota’s “rusty truck” buyback program.

The rusty truck buyback program was designed to compensate Toyota owners who had bought certain models of Toyota trucks that were especially susceptible to frame rusting that could result in an unsafe vehicle. This applied primarily to Tacomas, Tundras and Sequoias from 2004-2008 and 2010, which especially affected truck owners residing in areas where road salt damage is a common problem. This program, however, specifically excluded dealers from participating.

Here is a past news video that shows how serious of a problem this was and some truck owners discovering too late that there was a time limit on benefiting from the buyback program:

Warranty running out for rusting Toyota frames

Buyback Scam Opportunity

However, rather than benefitting honest Toyota customers, others found the program to be a potential buyback scam opportunity that was just too good to resist.

According to multiple sources about the scam, James Pinson, a dealership owner from Kentucky, was sentenced last week to six years in prison for scamming Toyota out of $4.3 million.

The scam worked like this:

• Pinson bought 350 inexpensive rusting Toyota trucks at dealer wholesale auctions.

• He would then obtain random people's driver's licenses and illegally title the trucks in their name.

• After which, he bribed a Toyota service manager and another dealership employee to process the paperwork for the bogus buyback vehicles.

• It is reported that he got back 150% of the listed Kelley Blue Book value for each of the trucks leading to a $4-million dollar plus scam.

While the exact details are unavailable as to how the checks from Toyota made it to the scammers, what appears certain is that being overly greedy and limiting the claims to a single dealership eventually caught Toyota’s attention leading to an investigation and arrests.

Pinson and his colleagues have to pay $4.3 million in restitution, Pinson lost his beach house in South Carolina that was purchased with the scammed money, and now has a 6-year in prison sentence while one colleague received 2 years and the other 15 months sentencing in prison.

For more about the scam and arrests, here’s the take on the crime by automotive focused attorney Steve Lehto:
Related article: Toyota Plans to Get More with This Latest Trick reports attorney Steve Lehto.

Men Get Prison for Ripping Off Toyota

And finally…

For additional articles about scams here are two popular favorites: “Scam Alert: What Dealerships Don’t Want You to Know About Used Car Inspections” and “Why Ford Customers Don’t Trust Ford Dealerships to Fix Their Cars.”

COMING UP NEXT: What You Need to Know Before Buying a Toyota or Lexus Hybrid This Year

Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

Image Source: Pixabay