Dealer who sold Ferraris, Rolls-Royces charged in $3-million scam
An Orange County man has been charged in a $3-million car embezzlement scheme in which he allegedly defrauded owners of such luxury cars as Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Rolls-Royces trying to sell their vehicles on consignment through his Costa Mesa dealership, law enforcement officials said.
Farhad Ebadat, 37, faces 15 felony counts of embezzlement by fiduciary trust, 15 felony counts of money-laundering and 11 felony counts of grand theft by false pretenses, according to a joint statement by the Orange County district attorney's office and the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force.
Ebadat, a Huntington Beach resident, is set to be arraigned Monday. If convicted, officials said, Ebadat could face a maximum sentence of 34 years and eight months in state prison. He was arrested earlier this month and is being held on $3 million bail.
Ebadat owned and operated Costa Mesa Bellagio Motors, a dealership specializing in high-end luxury vehicles, from 2009 through this year.
Prosecutors said Ebadat offered to sell luxury vehicles on consignment for the owners, pay them and transfer the car titles to the purchasers. But prosecutors said he is accused of selling the cars — some worth as much as $225,000 — and then diverting the payments received to his personal accounts.
Prosecutors said Ebadat defrauded innocent buyers who paid in full for the vehicles, but they weren't able to obtain the cars' titles because the previous owner had not been paid. He is also accused of not delivering some of the purchased vehicles to the buyers.
The investigation into Ebadat began with Costa Mesa police but was turned over to the auto theft task force, a multi-jurisdictional program that includes law enforcement agencies across the county.
After the investigation began, officials said Ebadat closed Bellagio Motors and moved from his Huntington Beach home to a rental in Bermuda Dunes, clearing out his bank accounts and wiring the money to accounts in France and Iran.
Officials said the investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information can contact Investigator Anthony Sosnowski of the district attorney's office at (714) 664-3943 or task force Det. Rick Henry (714) 634-1385.
-- Rick Rojas