RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced a court order on Monday against a Buncombe County man who allegedly claimed to sell Pontiac Trans Ams, took advance deposits and failed to deliver.
On Thursday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning agreed with Cooper's request for a temporary restraining order against Robert McElreath and his businesses Discount Automotive Classic Restorations, Common Man Classic Hot Rods, Pontiac Pros, Pick a Pony and Build-a-Bandit. Cooper is seeking to permanently ban McElreath and his companies from performing auto restoration work in the state and obtain civil penalties and refunds.
The Pontiac Trans Am was made popular in the 1977 hit movie "Smokey and the Bandit."
"Promising consumers a custom car, taking their money and then leaving them high and dry is no way to do business," Cooper said. "We want to stop bandits from making off with people's money."
McElreath allegedly advertised his Smokey and the Bandit cars on internet auction sites like eBay. Consumers who bid on the cars but did not win received allegedly received follow up calls from McElreath to offer them a car at a discount. Consumers were allegedly asked to sign a written contract and wire thousands of dollars prior to the start of work. Consumers alleged that McElreath did very little work, that they had trouble reaching McElreath and that they never received their cars or their money.
"No matter how much you want it or how good the deal seems, it's not a good idea to pay upfront, especially by wire transfer," Cooper said. "Check out a company thoroughly before you agree to give them your money."
Since 2009, consumers have allegedly paid more than $2.2 million to McElreath for unsatisfactory or incomplete restorations. There have been 26 warrants issued against McElreath and he faces arrest on felony charges.