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In the dark times, before you could easily complete a wire transfer from your cellphone, the bad check was the bread and butter of confidence men everywhere. The nefarious profession got its name because most any scam requires the artist first gains your confidence. And in many old school scams, they would then convince you to take their personal check as payment for something. You might give them cash, or even a car, in return. But when you visited your local bank the next day, you were in for a nasty surprise: the check was bogus.

I thought those days were decades behind us. But then some crooks made off with one of the most iconic YouTube cars in the world using–you guessed it–a bad check. After hearing the story, I’d say this is as much the bank’s fault as the victims. But some police officers disagree. And they warn that bad checks are still a common car-buying scam.

Brian Kiefer under the hood of his red 2016 BMW M3 sedan
2016 BMW M3 | Kies Motorsports

The car in question is a 2016 BMW M3 (“F80” generation) that the Kies Motorsports team hotrodded to 1,000 horsepower. Bryan Kiefer is the founder of Kies motorsports, which produces build videos and sells aftermarket car parts. Because his Ferrari-red 2016 M3 has long been an icon of his brand, it’s less shocking that he invested over $175,000 of parts–and countless hours–into his M3. But that’s still a lot of dough!

In his quest to build a 1,000 horspower M3, Bryan dropped a newly built custom S55 engine with Mosselman turbochargers into the car. Every part is the best of the best. His air intakes: carbon fiber. His coolant reservoir: titanium. This BMW makes so much power that it maxed out the dynamometer. You can see that glorious run in the video below:

So why in the world would Kiefer sell this glorious machine? At this point he’s built multiple other M3s, including a F30 335i XDrive and a 2022 G80 M3 Competition. After taking the 2016 about as far as any sane builder would, he decided it was time to pass it on. So he listed the car for $70,000. Which is honestly a steal (no pun intended).

A man with a Facebook profile titled “John Clay” reached out and set up a time to see the car. He showed up, said he wanted it, and presented Kiefer with a cashier’s check. This wasn’t any handwritten affair. It was supposedly printed by the bank where Clay did business.

Even so, Kiefer wasn’t ready to hand over the keys just yet. He insisted on driving over to his own bank. There, Clay and he presented the check. The teller ran the check through the scanner, said it was good, and actually deposited the money in Kiefer’s account. Personally, I would have said, “All good” and handed over the BMW’s keys. And that’s exactly what Kiefer did.

Here’s the kicker: Four days later the bank withdrew the funds from Kiefer’s account! He called them and they told him that both the account number and routing number on Clay’s cashier’s check were false. (We’ll come back to the bank later).

Kiefer immediately called Clay. He said he didn’t want the police involved, but he needed the car back until they arranged some form of payment. He gave Clay a deadline, “Drop it off at my shop by 4 pm, or I’ll call the cops.” The time came and went, and the Ferrari red BMW was still nowhere to be seen.

Here’s where Kiefer gave Clay a ton more slack than I would have. Clay plead with Kiefer not to call the police. He said he was driving towards him and asked to meet an hour away from the shop. Kiefer offered that Clay could leave the car in any parking lot, text him the location, and avoid further trouble. Then Kiefer and his buddies drove around the meeting place, looking for the car, until nearly 9 pm!

After the guys had had it with the thief’s shenanigans, they called the police and reported the car stolen. Of course Clay tried again, one of his friends texted Kiefer and said they’d taken the car to Virginia, but after they realized it was stolen they were driving back to Kiefer’s shop in New Jersey to return it. Of course they still haven’t showed up.

So who’s to blame? A ton of commenters, from YouTube to Reddit, feel the bank is at fault. And I agree that if the funds were still “pending,” perhaps the teller was not clear enough with Kiefer. On the other hand, a basic Google search should tell you whether a routing number is legit, though an account number is a bit harder to double-check.

One YouTube comment was especially insightful:

Retired Law Enforcement here and a fellow BMW owner (2021 M440I). Sadly this happens all too often. Never accept a cashiers check and turn over car until the check officially clears. Many scammers out there (I have investigated quite a few in my career). The checks always looks legit – even to a bank employee at first glance. But ALWAYS wait until the check officially clears before releasing car. Hopefully the car can be recovered and not put on a container ship heading to Africa or the Middle East.

Dennis Lam via YouTube

After some more investigation, Kiefer believes the thief’s name is actually John Pasqual. At this point, the bright red BMW could be anywhere. But if you spot it or recognize Pasqual you can email Kiefer: Note that the car’s VIN is WBS8M9C53G5E68073.

Next, learn how to stay safe while buying from a private seller, or see Kiefer’s video on his stolen M3 below:

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