The dealership said it discovered the scheme on Sept. 4, when customers began calling about their orders. Sciple said the dealership has fired Sookralli and contacted law enforcement.
"No one here was aware of what was going on," said Sciple, who described Sookralli as a "likable guy."
Sookralli's whereabouts were unknown since he left work on Aug. 28, according to a police report from the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
The dealership's attorney, Roy Diaz, said it hasn't been able to locate Sookralli, and law enforcement is investigating. Sookralli is also accused of stealing a desktop computer from the dealership.
In a court filing, Sciple said the dealership was in contact with Sookralli by email and identified 24 transactions "in his scheme to defraud the plaintiff and consumers." Sciple said in the filing that Sookralli admitted to receiving $2,560,198.
Vimla Sookralli and Budhram didn't return phone messages seeking comment.
Sookralli, who has 10 children, was having financial struggles related to child support payments and money judgments against him, according to the lawsuit. In late August, one of his creditors, American Express Centurion Bank Corp., was granted a garnishment of his wages from Champion, amounting to 25 percent of his net disposable pay. He owes more than $176,500 from the use of two American Express cards dating back to 2016, according to court records.
At least two people have filed police reports regarding Sookralli with the Broward County sheriff, including one California resident who told Champion Porsche that Sookralli had agreed to get him a 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS and in July 2017 wired about $130,000 to Champion Autosport through Bank of America. No vehicle was ordered and the transaction did not go through Champion Porsche, the dealership told police in the Sept. 5 report obtained by Automotive News.
A person from East Hampton, N.Y., filed a police report on Sept. 9, saying he was in touch with Sookralli at Champion Porsche and had wired $15,000 a year earlier to a Bank of America account as a deposit for a "pre-production 2018 Porsche GT3 for July delivery."
Sookralli advised customers to wire money to a Champion Autosport account at Bank of America — an account apparently controlled by him and Budhram — and also accepted credit card payments, Sciple said in court documents.
A judge on Sept. 11 ordered Bank of America to freeze the account and provide Copans Motors' counsel with all transactions in it since 2010.
Porsche said in a statement that Champion Porsche made it aware of the most recent case, which it called an "unfortunate situation."
"Champion Porsche has assured us it will help Porsche buyers who might have been impacted and is asking those customers to give their information to Champion's legal counsel," a Porsche Cars North America spokesman said in an email.
The discovery of the alleged fraud came several weeks after the dealership's owner, Dave Maraj, died from an apparent drowning in mid-July. Maraj was also the former owner of the Champion Racing team that won several American Le Mans Series championships in the mid-2000s.
A year earlier, it was Copans Motors facing a lawsuit over a transaction allegedly involving Sookralli. The suit, filed by Fellow Assets Inc. and M&L Luxury Cars Inc. in Pompano Beach, Fla., named Copans' operating brands, the Sookrallis and Rampage Motors Inc. as defendants, accusing them of fraud, unjust enrichment and writing bad checks.
Fellow and M&L alleged that Rampage was a sham company, owned and operated by the Sookrallis, that offered high-end vehicles for sale. On June 20, 2016, they alleged, the Sookrallis through Rampage agreed to sell them a white Porsche 911 R. They paid a $500,000 deposit, with a $60,200 balance due upon delivery, according to the lawsuit.
Exhibits filed with the lawsuit included two separate buyer orders for the car, one listing Champion Motors as the seller and Sookralli as the salesperson, and a later one signed by Sookralli showing Rampage Motors as the seller.
"The defendants were confronted by the plaintiffs when the above described vehicle was not provided and said defendants confessed and admitted that the representations were false and had been made as a ruse to attempt to bilk the plaintiffs out of the $500,000," according to the lawsuit.
It appears the Sookrallis attempted to make payments to the plaintiffs — but with four bad checks.
A $75,000 check dated May 12, 2017, signed by Sookralli was returned for insufficient funds, as was one for $75,000 dated May 17, 2017. A check for $200,000 dated May 19, 2017, from Rampage Motors was returned because the account was closed, as was a check from Rampage Motors for $150,000 dated May 5, 2017.
The case went to mediation and an undisclosed settlement was reached. Sciple said he couldn't discuss it.