Car Dealer Closes Amid State Investigation

Consignment Buyers, Sellers Potentially Scammed

Investigators in Englewood and the state Department of Revenue are investing allegations that Autohut scammed 74 people out of property and cash.

"I kind of feel stupid for doing it in the first place," said Cindy Meyers, one of the 74 people waiting for money or cars.

Meyers told 7NEWS she had taken her 1999 Mazda Miata to Autohut at 2840 S. Broadway in late April.

She agreed to sell it on consignment. The dealer was to get $500 and she was to get the remainder once it was sold to a qualified buyer.

On May 2, Meyers said, her car sold for $6,000.

She believed she would get a check for $5,500.

Meyers said that she was told the car was purchased with "out of state" funds and would take 10 days before she could receive her check.

"So I'm thinking, 'OK, it might be a bit of a hassle but we'll get there.' Well, we're not there yet," Meyers said.

Instead, Meyers said she got nothing and is now likely to go after the buyer of her car, who is also a likely victim.

That's because the buyers in this case were getting a car but no title, so they can't register the vehicle.

Sellers like Meyers claim they never got paid, but they still have the title to the car.

"You know, unfortunately it's a lot more common than what we'd like to believe," said James Allbee, a private investigator. "With the way the economy is right now, people are looking to hang onto their money and get money as quickly as they can. And so if they can sell their car in a week versus having it on Craigslist for a couple months, you'd be crazy not to give it a shot. It's a pretty easy scam and pretty easy to sucker people into it."

On Wednesday, the Better Business Bureau in Denver issued an F rating for Autohut, based on several complaints that went unanswered.

After a review of public databases, 7NEWS also found Autohut had not properly reregistered with the Colorado Secretary of State's office for three years.

Now, the Englewood Police Department and Revenue Department personnel are looking into Autohut, with findings expected to be presented to the Arapahoe County District Attorney's office for consideration of filing criminal charges.

Reached by telephone, former Autohut general manager Lowell Andrews told 7NEWS, "No one has left the state. We are cooperating 100 percent. There was no fraud. We're just a company in America that just went bankrupt."

Autohut released this statement late Wednesday:

"Autohut is in the process of filing bankruptcy. All parties involved will be notified by the courts. The owner of Autohut voluntarily turned over the Dealer license to the Colorado Department of Revenue including records and financial statements. Autohut's owner and staff are cooperating with the Englewood police department and the Colorado dealer board. No owner or employee of Autohut has fled or eluded authorities in any way. This is a delicate matter and to protect the privacy of Autohut's customers no further information can be given to the parties involved at this time. No theft, fraud or intent of fraud has been committed by anyone at Autohut. We regret this unfortunate incident."

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