LEE COUNTY, FLA — In just a matter of moments, a Lehigh Acres mom said she was scammed out of a car and thousands in cash.
Speaking to FOX 4 through a translator, she said it all started with her looking for a car.
"So basically she saying she needed a car for work, to get to work," said the translator.
That need led that single mom to Facebook Marketplace, where she found this 2006 Toyota Corolla up for sale.
Screenshots show that after some negotiating and translating done by her oldest son, she and the seller settled on $2500 for the car. And they decided to meet up Monday to make the exchange.
"They met them and then they said, 'We need to drop it off at your house,'" said the translator.
But she says when they got to her house, all of a sudden the story changed.
"When they got here, they said 'We don't have the title.' And they were going to come back at 1 o'clock the next day, which they never did. But they did take the money," said the translator.
When the couple didn't show with the title Tuesday, that mom said she and her son tried messaging them on Facebook, but noticed the sellers had blocked them. Shortly after, they say they checked the listing and saw that it had been updated to show that the car was being sold "without a title."
In a panic, they called the Lee County Sheriff's Office. A report from that day shows that when law enforcement had the car's plates run through DMV, they discovered that car had a lien on it and that it was still owned by Denny's Auto Sales in Fort Myers.
The dealership's owner, Dennis Hampton, says he'd been trying to track down that couple and the car for months.
"She had the car for two or three weeks, made one payment and we haven't seen her since," he said.
And he finally found the car, after that mom and her brother called him to get some answers.
"We got a phone call from a Hispanic gentleman saying he wanted to get the title for the car. We informed him that the person who owned the car was still making payments on it, therefore he couldn't get the title," said Hampton, "Now the car gets repossessed by our banks because it belongs to Denny's Auto Sales at this point."
It's a heartbreaking situation that's left that mom without a car, cash, or peace of mind.
"Now she's saying that she's afraid because she doesn't know these people and she has her kids here. She doesn't know what can happen to her," said that woman's translator.
Both the Lehigh Acres mother and Hampton are now looking to press charges against that couple. That mother also wants her money back and is looking for some legal help to get that done. You can contact her at 239-240-1808.
FOX 4 also got a chance to speak with the folks who sold that car on Facebook. They declined an interview, but claimed they did nothing wrong and said the dealership never contacted them about late or missed payments.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles selling a car without a title is not always impossible, but it is often a tricky thing to do.
The department says a vehicle cannot legally be sold in our state, in a private sale, if it has a lien on it and the title must be transferred to the new owner.
However, in the above case, a sheriff's deputy's report shows that the car had a lien on it. According to Hampton, he was never contacted before the sale went down, so the previous owners could try and transfer the title to the new owners.