California Interstate Auto Transport Broker Ordered to Pay $95,912 to Reimburse 189 Victims of an Internet-based Auto Moving Scam
On August 15, Billy D. Southerland, Anderson, CA, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, CA to 67 months in Federal prison and ordered to pay $95,912 in restitution to 189 victims of an automobile transport "bait and switch" scheme. In March 2005, Southerland was found guilty on three felony counts of mail and wire fraud. Customers usually paid a $200 deposit and a portion of the quoted price for moving their cars from one city to another. Southerland then failed to perform, and responded to customer complaints by requiring additional money. Customers who attempted to cancel their auto moves or contact the Better Business Bureau were refused a refund of some or all of the money paid. Based on trial evidence, customers were defrauded of $604,585 from December 2002 through November 2003. The case was jointly investigated with the Shasta County District Attorney's Office, Bureau of Investigation.