Valley man at center of international classic car scam case disappears

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Lawyers for the Arizona Attorney General’s office are trying to collect more than $500-thousand from a man who admits to offering high-dollar classic cars for sale, that he did not own.

The AG’s office is pursuing collections against Frederic Ballot, who owned European Vintage Car Company. But Ballot has fled the country, according to his ex-wife.

“This is the way he makes a living, by being a thief,” said Frank Gallogly, who says Ballot claimed to have a 1955 Mercedes 300 SL “Gullwing” for sale.

“It was a $580,000 check I sent out to buy the car,” said Gallogly. “Within two or three days, I knew something was wrong,” he said.

Gallogly is one of at least a half-dozen other car buyers who claim Ballot ripped them off. Several have filed lawsuits in Maricopa County Superior Court, separate from the AG’s Consumer Fraud Act claim. Victims have come forward from countries around the world, including Australia, Italy, Scotland and Belgium.

Attorneys in Arizona started getting phone calls from Ballot’s clients in 2010.

“A guy in France gives me a call,” said Gilbert attorney Kevin Harper.

Harper says Ballot accepted more than $40,000 from his client for a car Ballot ended up admitting that he never owned.

“He was very clearly lying to my client and making up stories about where this car was and what happened with the car,” said Harper, whose client was able to reach a settlement with Ballot. Subsequent victims were not so fortunate.

Moretto Renato, who lives in Italy, says he paid Ballot $45,000 for a car in 2009 and never received anything in return.

The AG’s Consumer Fraud Act claim alleges that Ballot tried to convince someone to give him $1.5-million for a rare Ferrari that Ballot never owned. Ballot admitted wrongdoing in a stipulated consent judgment, which he signed.

But despite all of these accusations, allegations and the AG’s case, Ballot was never prosecuted criminally. Attorneys who deal with these kinds of cases tell CBS 5 Investigates that it is often easier to file civil cases against people accused of fraud, because the burden of proof is less in a Consumer Fraud Act case, which is civil, than it would be in a criminal case, which would require proof of fraudulent intent.

The result here is that Ballot has disappeared.  There are no warrants for his arrest. And no guarantees that any of his victims will ever receive compensation.

“First of all, I’d grab him around the throat and tell him he’s an effing thief,” said Gallogly.

[RELATED: You too can own a classic car without spending big money]

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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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