LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - A Baldwin Hills man pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal criminal charge for conning victims nationwide into giving him their high-end and exotic vehicles with bogus promises he would find other people to take over their car leases.
Geoffrey Eldridge Hull, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin set a May 26 sentencing hearing.
Hull was investigated and exposed by CBS2 News Investigative Reporter David Goldstein in 2008 and in 2019.
From April 2016 to November 2019, Hull marketed himself and his companies as being able to find people to take over leases for high-end and exotic cars -- such as Bentleys, Ferraris and Maseratis -- from individuals no longer wishing to continue those leases. Despite assuring victims that his venture was successful, Hull and his companies did not find people to take over these leases, according to his plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Hull agreed to cover monthly lease payments and promised leaseholders that he would quickly find credit-qualified buyers to legally assume the lease through the original finance company. Hull used a longtime friend and business associate to vouch for the quality of the program.
In fact, Hull offered the luxury cars for rent and passed little of the rent money to the original leaseholders, who were still responsible for lease payments. Furthermore, Hull made few, if any, timely car lease payments, according to prosecutors.
Hull ignored victims' requests for the return of their vehicles, prompting some to make stolen car reports to law enforcement agencies. When some victims' cars were returned after law enforcement seizures, repossessions and other means, the cars were often damaged, had incurred toll and parking violations or had been driven over the allotted mileage.
When victims posted negative reviews online about Hull and his company, Hull would change his company name and resume the scheme.
In total, Hull defrauded at least 128 individuals and caused an actual loss of at least $1.5 million, prosecutors said.
(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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