Local car dealer indicted over alleged title scam

Becky Campbell • Jul 12, 2012 at 12:03 PM

A small used car lot was raking in big money for the owner, but he duped buyers by never providing a proof of ownership, according to an indictment handed down this week by a Washington County grand jury.

George William Gwinn Jr., 40, 1726 Sylvan Hill Rd., Elizabethton, was indicted this week on multiple counts involving his alleged failure to provide vehicle titles to buyers.

Gwinn was indicted on two counts of theft over $500 but less than $1,000, 17 counts of theft over $1,000 but less than $10,000, one count of theft over $10,000 but less than $60,000, two counts of identity theft and two counts of violation of the Tennessee revenue law.

In one of the counts, Gwinn is accused of obtaining a loan in a potential customer’s name for over $14,000. The victim had agreed to buy a vehicle that was being repaired, but allegedly never gave Gwinn permission to obtain the loan.

Other counts involve victims paying Gwinn for the vehicle up front, but never being supplied a title while some victims returned vehicles with mechanical problems, continued to make payments but they never got their vehicles back, according to court documents.

One woman had the car repossessed even though she never received it back from Gwinn, court records show.

Many of Gwinn’s customers complained to police that they repeatedly attempted to get a title from the dealer, but he gave all kinds of excuses of why he didn’t have it.

One victim told police she paid $500 down and $200 a month for a vehicle and during that time Gwinn gave her six 30-day temporary paper tags.

The woman said she asked Gwinn numerous times for paperwork that would allow her to obtain a permanent tag, but he said she couldn’t get one because she didn’t have a Tennessee driver’s license and he was having trouble getting a title from the state.

By the time the woman filed the complaint in November, she could no longer use the car because she didn’t have a valid tag.

Gwinn is free on a $100,000 bond and will appear in Washington County Criminal Court on the charges later this month.

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