Watch CBS News

Marine veteran says he was arrested, charged after Hertz falsely accused him of stealing rental car: "It was hell"

Man claims Hertz falsely accused him
Man claims Hertz falsely accused him of stealing car 06:11

Blake Gober, a 33-year-old political consultant and a Marine veteran, is among a group of Hertz customers who have faced criminal charges following accusations of theft from the rental car company.

"Charging an innocent person and trying to go after an innocent person, that's not justice. That's the opposite of justice," Gober told CBS News. 

Gober said that in November 2019 he rented a car from Hertz in Morgantown, West Virginia, to travel to his new job. After completing his journey, he says he returned the vehicle to Hertz at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. There was no agent when he arrived late at night, so he left the keys in the car at the drop-off location, he said. 

Nearly three years later, Gober's life took a turn when he was pulled over for speeding in Louisville, Kentucky, his current place of residence.

"They pulled me behind the vehicle and placed me in handcuffs and said that I had a warrant out for my arrest out of West Virginia," said Gober. 

Gober spent a week in a Louisville jail, waiting for West Virginia officers to pick him up, just six weeks before his scheduled wedding.

"It was hell. It was the worst. Like, I wouldn't wish to wish that on anybody," said Gober.

In January, Gober was indicted for theft of a rental vehicle and grand larceny. The looming possibility of him serving a 12-year sentence cast a shadow over his marriage.

"This entire year has been the hardest year of my life," said Erica, Gober's wife.

Gober's case is among hundreds of similar cases that CBS News has been reporting on for over three years. Numerous Hertz customers have reported facing arrest — some at gunpoint — and even imprisonment after they said the company falsely accused them of car theft.

Carrie Gibbs, a real estate agent, recalled law enforcement drawing guns on her. James Tolen, a Houston contractor, described the disbelief of being accused of stealing a Hertz rental car. Carmen Bosko, a mother, was jailed for 40 days shortly after giving birth. None of them were ultimately convicted.

In December, Hertz reached settlements in 364 cases, paying $168 million to people who filed claims of false theft accusations. Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called for the government to examine the practices of Hertz in March last year, after CBS News' reporting.

Gober's defense attorney, Wes Prince, said that people like Gober across the country have been wrongfully arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.

In response to inquiries about Gober's case, Hertz stood behind its allegations, saying he rented a car for one day and kept it for over three months without paying. The company said that before reporting the car stolen, representatives made repeated attempts to contact Gober including by email, texts, phone calls and certified mail, all of which they claim he "ignored."

However, documents produced by Hertz in the case show company representatives were apparently using what Gober says was an old address, and some wrong phone numbers.

Gober said he doesn't recall getting any emails or phone calls from Hertz and that the prosecution needs to end.

After CBS News contacted the prosecutor's office, the prosecutor in Gober's case has filed to dismiss the charges, saying "the state has lost confidence in the reliability of the information provided by the victim in the case," referring to Hertz.

In response to the prosecutor's motion for dismissal, Hertz sent CBS News the following statement: 

"The facts remain unchanged: Mr. Gober rented a car from Hertz for one day. He kept the car for over three months without payment. Hertz reached out repeatedly to Mr. Gober regarding its car, including by email, texts, phone calls, and certified mail. Mr. Gober ignored all of Hertz's outreach, save one phone call during which he hung up on a Hertz representative when asked to return the vehicle. Ultimately, Hertz reported its car stolen."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.