CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - A car salesman is accused of ripping customers off, and pocketing their down-payments.
Deputies say Christopher Israel sold cars then took off with the money. Only WINK-TV spoke exclusively with one of the victims, who says she is in the middle of a financial nightmare.
Emily Basham hoped buying a car would improve her credit. In February she bought one from JR Wholesale in Punta Gorda. But deputies say her car salesman is a thief who's targeted more than a dozen people.
"I feel like I went to hell and did a deal with the devil," said Basham. That deal turned her life upside down. The devil she's referring to is 54-year-old Christopher Israel.
"He was a complete liar. Everything he said from beginning to end was nothing but lies," she said.
She says Israel sold her a 2000 Chevrolet Impala from JR Wholesale in February. The price tag, he said, was about $4,000.
She gave him a down payment of $2500 plus $208 for her first monthly payment. He said he would help her get financing, but when she got her paperwork in the mail.
"I realized everything had been changed. The total of the vehicle had went to almost 8 grand. My payments a month are almost $100 more month," she said. It also claimed she only paid $1000 as a down payment, not her $2500.
Charlotte County deputies say Israel was keeping customers' cash for himself and he's targeted more than a dozen people.
An arrest report from a few weeks ago shows he did the same thing at Burnt Store Auto and Trailer Sales which is now vacant.
"The financing company shows no sympathy either. They don't care to hear about it," she said.
Now, she's struggling to make payments for a price she never agreed to. "There are thousands and thousands of Americans sitting on the unemployment line. He was employed. And he became greedy."
She also says JR Wholesale won't help her either. The company's owner declined to speak on camera but says he had no idea his employee was stealing money.
Israel is facing charges of grant theft and scheming to defraud.