A former finance manager at an AutoNation dealership in Florida scammed customers out of nearly $180,000 in cash they gave him for vehicles that he never produced, police say. He's accused of gambling away the would-be buyers' money.
Carlos Ravelo, 51, was arrested this month at a Hyundai dealership where he had been hired recently. The felony charges he's facing, including grand theft, relate to his previous job at AutoNation Honda Miami Lakes.
One customer, Yuliety Borges, told the Miami-Dade Police Department that she trusted AutoNation Honda after buying a previous vehicle there and also knew Ravelo, who had attended school with her mother-in-law. Investigators said Ravelo told her he could get her a deal on a vehicle but only if she paid cash.
"The victim trusted that since the deal was taking place at AutoNation Honda it was a legitimate deal," police wrote.
Borges said she gave Ravelo two payments totaling $62,000 but never received the vehicle, and then Ravelo stopped taking her calls, according to police. When she went to the dealership, she found Ravelo had been suspended because of complaints like hers.
Another customer, Elio Cases, told police he met with Ravelo at the dealership. Ravelo said a 2019 Honda Civic was available for $9,000, but the customer "could only purchase the vehicle [with] cash, through him since he was the 'financial manager' at the dealership," police wrote. Cases "was under the impression that the deal was a legitimate transaction because it was done in the office of the subject who was the manager of AutoNation Honda," police wrote.
After collecting the money, Ravelo said the vehicle was in the shop, and he would call when it was ready, Later, Ravelo said the deal had fallen through and gave Cases a refund check that bounced, according to police.
The police reports suggest that AutoNation fired Ravelo. The company did not respond to a request for comment last week.
Casino officials told police that Ravelo spent more than $1,000 there "on an almost everyday basis."