Prattville Man Convicted in Fraudulent Car Sales Scheme
On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, Robert Brandon Malone, 35, of Prattville, pleaded guilty to three counts of federal wire fraud and one count of transporting a stolen vehicle, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr., FBI Special Agent in Charge James Jewell, and Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson. The federal charges arise from multiple schemes orchestrated by Malone to sell automobiles that did not belong to him.
According to court records, in April of 2017, Malone posted a Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck for sale on the advertising website craigslist. However, the truck was actually a trade-in vehicle to the dealership for which he worked at the time. After the post, he was contacted by a potential buyer and represented to him that he was the actual owner. The buyer made the purchase, but returned the vehicle after learning that Malone did not own the truck. Malone did not refund his money.
Later, in January of 2018, Malone was working on a Chevrolet C-10 pickup truck for someone and was storing it at his shop. Once again, he created a craigslist post listing it for sale although the owner had not given him the authority to do so. A potential buyer contacted Malone and arranged a trade for another vehicle. Once he learned that Malone did not own the truck, it was returned to the rightful owner. However, the vehicle that was traded was not returned.
Finally, in November of 2018, Malone went to a car dealership in Georgia and was in the process of completing the paperwork to purchase an Audi R8. However, before the purchase was complete, he drove the vehicle off the lot and back to Prattville. He contacted someone that he knew was in the market for an Audi and they drove to Prattville to look at the vehicle. The purchaser gave him a down payment for the car and left his F-150 with Malone to hold temporarily until he could return to pick it up. Malone did not wait for the owner to return, instead, he listed the truck on Instagram and sold it to another individual. Ultimately, the Audi was returned to the dealership and the truck to the Audi purchaser. However, neither victim recovered their losses.
Malone will have a sentencing hearing scheduled in the next few months where he will face up to 20 years in prison. He also faces monetary penalties and restitution.
“Malone was motivated by greed and arrogance,” stated U.S. Attorney Franklin. “He carried out his schemes with no apparent fear of being caught and held accountable. However, thanks to our law enforcement partners, his victims will get the justice they deserve. This case is a stark reminder that we must always be vigilant and exercise caution when making purchases through online websites such as these.”
“These types of scam artists have become all too comfortable operating in the business world,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge James Jewell. “It is imperative that the victims report these crimes to the authorities immediately so the FBI can work to assist our state and local partners bring justice to the victims that so often have a large monetary loss.”
“We certainly appreciate the cooperation and support we get from our federal partners,” stated Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson. “This was a very in depth and widespread investigation that may not have been possible without the assets of the FBI and the U.S Attorney’s Office. Although his crimes may not have been violent, Malone’s actions financially hurt many people and I am glad that he will be held accountable.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Prattville Police Department investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Bates is prosecuting this case.