Peoria man says he's a victim of Craigslist title loan scam

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Joshua Babetz installs floors for a living.

His garage is packed with supplies like floor samples, compressors, tools and a 200 pound hardwood floor sander.

“It's heavy equipment that a little truck can't take,” he said.

So, the Peoria man turned to Craigslist to find a truck big enough to haul all his equipment around. 

He found a 2006 White Ford F-250. You can see it in the background of another ad Josh claims was also posted by a man named Joel McCallister (right).

"It had a little bit of higher miles but for the price it seemed like a decent deal,” Josh said.

So, he says he bought the truck from Joel for $6,800 - cash.

It seemed like a done deal; Josh had the truck and what appeared to be its title.

“He said there was no liens, it's free and clear,” Josh recalled, “and all you have to do is take it down there and they'll give you a title in their name.” 

But when Josh tried to do that, he says he was told he couldn't because days earlier Joel McCallister had taken out a title loan on the truck.

But because he wasn't making the payments, Josh says the title loan company came after him, wanting him to pay back that $7,000 title loan while Joel allegedly walked away with the money.

"I'm expecting a baby on the way and this was the last money I had to buy myself a truck to start working again,” Josh said.

3 On Your Side has learned Joel McCallister is no stranger to the auto business.

According to county documents, he was hired to transport a 1982 Porsche from Texas to Alaska in September. 

But, the same day the Porsche was supposed to be delivered, Joel was pulled over - driving it - on I-40 near the New Mexico border.

The car was eventually reported stolen and a search warrant of his Gilbert home shows Joel later 'chopped the vehicle and sold identifiable parts to other victims...and that pieces of the vehicle were located in his backyard.'

For weeks, 3 On Your Side tried to track down Joel McCallister, but were told he'd already moved out of the home he's accused of running the chop shop.

After finding out about the lien on his truck, Josh says he returned it to the title company to avoid repossession. 

He's now using an SUV for work. 

“It's a little bit of an older vehicle but it works,” he said. 

But Josh feels more should be done to crack down on what he calls an elaborate scam.

ADOT says they are looking at this case but can't comment on an ongoing investigation, but we will continue to follow up with them.

Meantime, some advice if you are buying a car online, tell the seller you want to meet them at the MVD and get the title transferred into your name before you hand over any money.