ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -- More than nine months after the State shut them down, customers of Walters Used Car and Truck Superstore in Elkhart are coming forward with allegations of fraud and harassment. The State shut the dealership down in August for breaking dozens of laws. In order to re-open, the owner agreed to pay a fine and not to allow the company's president, Mark Scearse, to run the lot or manage any operations.
“When I found out, I was kind of ticked off.” Austin Morton, who purchased a truck from Walters in July, said.
It's been more than 10 months since Morton bought his truck. For nearly that entire time, the vehicle has been in storage while Morton has fought to get plates for the truck.
Walters issued a fraudulent temporary plate when Morton purchased the vehicle. At the time, the dealership was operating without a dealership license and was printing plates off from another dealership within its ownership that had been shut down by the Indiana Department of Revenue, but still had an active dealership license. That was just one of 40 laws the dealership violated, according to the Indiana Secretary of State's office. And it all led to the State revoking Walters' dealership license.
The dealerships have since re-opened, consolidated into one location on County Road 20 in Elkhart. The location that had been previously closed by the department of revenue.
Morton didn't know about anything illegal happening with his purchase until he was contacted by ABC57 News. After we spoke to him, he started doing more research.
“I thought I had a loan on it.” He said.
Morton tells ABC57 that he was initially instructed to deliver his payments directly to the dealership in cash, despite what he thought was a loan he was approved for and received paperwork on, while purchasing the truck at the dealership. When he contacted the lender, Indiana Credit Acceptance, to figure out how he should make payments, he was shocked by what he was told.
“I read them the VIN number and they didn’t have nothing on the truck.” He explained.
Morton then contacted an attorney and kept the truck in storage. Since then, he says he, his family and his friends have been harassed by people online. They've received messages from people trying to repossess the truck. Earlier this month, a man named Joseph Garrison sent a message claiming to work for Indiana Recovery Services. However, Indiana Recovery Services tells ABC57 nobody by that name works there and they have not tried to repo Morton's truck.
In February, another man by the name of Alan Simmons sent a picture of documents that Morton claims are fraudulent. They have an incorrect address and mileage listed. ABC57 reached out to Simmons, but he refused to talk about the allegations.
After our story aired on Tuesday, Simmons reached out to give a comment. He says he was simply doing his job. He was given paperwork to repossess the vehicle and reached out to Morton.
“I got the file. I was doing my job. Everything before that had nothing to do with me.” Simmons explained. “(The truck) was hidden really good. I looked for it and couldn’t find it.”
Simmons says he also reached out to Morton’s attorney, but never heard back.
ABC57 also went to the dealership. Despite the visit happening during business hours, the dealership door was locked and nobody answered the door.
ABC57 also went to the home of the Owner, Pamela Walters (who happens to be the mother of the former president, Mark Scearse), and left a card on her door.
She then sent text messages, an email and called the ABC57 Newsroom to complain about a reporter bothering her on a holiday.
"I'm being run down on Memorial Day to give my side of the story. To me, that's very distasteful." Walters said. “I work in a public position and I’m appalled. And I know that your watchers and everyone will be appalled with what’s happening. Another thing, I don’t even know the allegations that he’s referring to.”
Walters refused to speak with ABC57 about the allegations. However, her signature is on some of the public documentation that discusses the transaction involving Morton's truck.
In the end, there has been some good news for Morton. On Friday, a judge ruled that the BMV should issued him the title after a law enforcement check of the VIN. Morton tells ABC57 that the VIN came back clean and he should be getting the title any day. While it has taken nearly a year to get sorted out, what was supposed to cost Morton nearly $20,000 only set him back about $1,200.
“I’m happy. And hopefully they stay off my back.” Morton said.