this car dealer story has scam written all over it

Santa Ana man arrested in luxury car-selling scam

Michael Garduno, 25, of Santa Ana was arrested on suspicion of grand theft. Police said he sold high-end cars that did not belong to him and pocketing victims’ money.COURTESY OF THE SANTA ANA POLICE DEPARTMENT

SANTA ANA – A 25-year-old Santa Ana man was arrested this week for allegedly trying to sell high-end cars from auto dealerships he was not affiliated with and fleeing with victims’ money.

Michael Garduno faces a charge of grand-theft after, police said, he advertised luxury cars that didn’t belong to him at discounted prices on Craigslist.

“In fact, the vehicles he offered for sale were owned by various local auto dealers and were for sale on their lots,” a police statement says.

Garduno went to dealerships and took photos of cars and got vehicle identification numbers to present to potential buyers, said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

In one case, Garduno listed a 2013 Audi S5 that was at an Audi dealership in the Santa Ana Auto Mall, police said, with the dealer listing the car for $38,995 while Garduno advertised it for $9,000.

A 21-year-old man contacted Garduno via text messages about the Audi, police said, and Garduno told the man the dealership was selling the car on consignment.

Garduno met the 21-year-old victim at the auto mall and told him to test drive the car with an Audi salesman but not say he was interested in buying. After the drive, the victim met Garduno at a nearby BMW lot, police said, with Garduno wearing a polo shirt with a BMW logo.

The victim gave Garduno $9,000, police said, and they entered the dealer’s showroom to supposedly finalize the purchase but Garduno ran off.

Police said there are three other similar cases involving Garduno.

If victims asked why the car had such a low price, Garduno said it was repossessed or was it taken from a tow yard, Bertagna said. He told buyers to take cash to their meetings.

Garduno was being held at Central Men’s Jail on $100,000 bail.

Investigators believe there may be more victims in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Anyone who believes he or she may have been a victim is asked to call Santa Ana police detective Duane Greaver at 714-245-8362.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7865 or afausto@ocregister.com

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