Geoffrey Eldridge Hull recently pleaded guilty to a scam that was supposed to help people get out of luxury car leases for high-end supercars like Ferraris and Bentleys. Now the man is looking at six counts of wire fraud so far, which carries a maximum sentence of 120 years in federal prison. How did this man pull off such a con?
This luxury car “lease consignment” program wasn’t exactly legit
According to the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, Hull pleaded guilty this week. Homeland Security Investigations charged him with six counts of wire fraud related to the fraudulent business.
In all fairness, the scheme cooked up by Hull wasn’t a bad idea. He promised to get his clients out of leases for high-end luxury vehicles. The idea was that he would find someone else who would be interested in the lease and have the new party take it over. Therefore benefitting both sides of the deal. But Mr. Hull couldn’t leave well-enough alone.
With an office on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, the luxury car game wasn’t an unusual scene for Hull. According to the Department of Justice, the scam was billed as a “lease consignment” program. He marked himself and his companies as a way for people to get out of a lease while finding someone else to take it over. For the most part, he dabbled in luxury vehicles like Bentleys, Ferraris, Porsches, Maseratis, and similarly-priced sports cars.
Hull promised to find people to take over the luxury vehicle car leases
To get people on board, Hull would agree to take over the monthly lease payments. The indictment paper says he would then promise the original leaseholders that he would find a “credit-qualified buyer to legally assume the lease through the original finance company.” Hull also enlisted a business associate to help legitimize his lease program.
Instead of finding people to take over the luxury vehicle leases legally, he would rent the vehicles out. The rent payments for the various Ferraris and Bentleys would get passed back to the original vehicle owners. Unfortunately, these people would be responsible for the lease payments in the meantime. According to the documents, he failed to make payments in a timely fashion.
Once people started catching on to his scheme, Hull began to ignore the victim’s requests for information. He also ignored requests to get the cars back. Some reported the cars stolen to local police agencies, which caused even more of a problem. The stolen cars would be retrieved by seizure, repossessions, or other methods, which often damaged the vehicles in the meantime. By the time it reached this point, the cars often had tolls violations, parking tickets, and far more miles on the clock than anticipated.
This lease scheme managed to accumulate $1,560,321 in losses
That wasn’t the end of it, though. Customers would take to the internet to try and warn others by posting reviews online. To escape the negative reviews, Hull would change the company name and start new pages. According to the paperwork from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Hull had almost 10 different names he went by. These names include Exotic Lease Transfer, Shift Lease, Torque Transfer, and Luxe Lease Transfer. He also evaded police by using a variety of aliases like “Geoff Eldridge,” “Jeff Bluthenthal,” and “Geoff Eldredge.” He has previous convictions for grand theft auto.
In total, the investigation found 115 victims from Hull’s scheme, exceeding $1.5 million in damages. Investigators think there are more victims out there still that are unaware of what might have happened. If you or anyone you know thinks this scheme sounds familiar, you can call the Homeland Security Investigations Tip Line at 866-DHS-2-ICE (866-347-2423).
This week, Hull pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud. He will be sentenced on May 16. 2022, and is looking at 20 years in federal prison for now. This little plot worked temporarily, but the law won this round.