HABERSHAM COUNTY, Ga. - A car dealer accused of ripping off buyers was arrested Tuesday afternoon and taken away in handcuffs.
Multiple agencies launched investigations into Mitch Simpson after Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr met angry car buyers saying they had been scammed by Simpson.
Agents told Carr that Tuesday’s arrest is just a small part of a very large, complex theft and finance investigation.
Carr was there as police escorted Simpson out of his Habersham County home in handcuffs.
“Mr. Simpson, is there anything you want to say to your customers who came to us with these problems?” Carr asked Simpson.
"I'm sorry," Simpson answered as police placed him in the back of a police cruiser.
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When Carr asked him about the customers he's accused of deceiving, she saw him gesture through tinted windows.
"You have dozens of angry customers who say you cheated them. Is there anything you want to say about that?” Carr asked Simpson, who shrugged in return.
Simpson's arrest on felony theft by conversion charges comes just weeks after Carr’s initial report about him after customers said they never received tags or titles for the car they purchased with cash or through in-house financing.
Carr had found nearly 60 customers with similar complaints.
“We've got over $30,000 in this truck now and we don't even know if it's ours,” car buyer Justin Mathis said during Carr’s initial report.
“We suspect that he wasn't just taking the buyers' money, but also 'floor planning' the same car multiple times,” said Georgia Department of Revenue director of special investigations Josh Waites.
Those 'floor planning' companies offered Simpson lines of credits for the cars.
“In this case, he would lien them several times and then never send the money in to release them,” Waites said.
DOR officials said Simpson didn’t pay state vehicle taxes either.
“The customers are really between a rock and a hard place to get their cars registered. So, we're working with the commissioners. We're working with the dealerships' bonding companies to get the TAVT (title ad valorem tax) paid so they can register the vehicles,” Waites told Carr.
The Department of Revenue also anticipates more charges.
It is working with multiple county district attorneys to determine how to charge Simpson because the alleged offenses affect car buyers in multiple counties.
No bond was set on the three charges of theft by conversion for which Simpson was arrested on Tuesday.
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