It’s not easy selling used cars, especially when you consider the reputation that most used-car salesmen have for being…well, used-car salesman. So it may come as no surprise that a used car salesman on Blanding Boulevard (I’m not making that name up) might have chosen to spice up his ledger with a little bit of tax fraud. And when I say a little bit, I mean about $5 million, give-or-take…though mostly take.
The story comes from WKOV in Jacksonville, Florida, where Bryan Copeland was indicted on38-counts , including mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft and false claims against the government. But no great deed is achieved alone. The story says that according to authorities, “he had people take those tax returns and deposit them into bank accounts they opened up” – a common fraud technique. What makes this story uncommon is that he would then buy used cars with the money for his dealership, ushering in an entirely new business model for his business, New Era Auto Sales. (Don’t they say there’s no money in those used cars? Better to stay with the fraud if obviously good at it.)
This business model, however, is not likely to catch on in this era or any other, since his charges carry with them up to 568 years in prison and a fine of $9.5 million. Also, it was a lot of work – the Assistant U.S. Attorney said that “1,300 tax returns were part of the scheme, and $5 million is still missing.” (Check the parking lot for the $5 million dollars; you can get a lot of rust buckets for $5 million.)
If you go to buy a car and notice the dealership has $5 million in rust buckets, think caveat emptor.