VP at largest U.S. Porsche dealer accused of stealing $2.5 million
19 September 2018 - Autoblog
He allegedly created fake buyer deposit agreements for rare 911 GT3s
Champion Porsche, based in Pompano Beach, Fla., touts itself as an "Exclusive Manufaktur Partner" and "#1 Porsche Dealer in America" on its website. Now, it faces a scandal that has earned it the ire of at least two dozen customers who reportedly put down more than $2.5 million in combined deposits for exclusive 911 GT3 and GT3 RS models but are left with nothing after a salesman disappeared with their money.
The dealership filed a lawsuit Sept. 7 in a Broward County, Fla. Circuit Court. It names Shiraaz Sookralli, Champion Porsche's vice president of marketing; his wife Vimla Sookralli; and the fictitious Champion Autosport, a shell fund Sookralli is alleged to have created and used to siphon off deposits, as defendants.
The suit alleges that Sookralli, who had worked at the dealership for around 10 years, created a fraudulent scheme to present buyers with fake buyer deposit agreements that "failed to include any manufacturer or allocation information regarding the vehicles he was purportedly selling and contained false and fraudulent seller information." Sookralli allegedly used the bogus documents to get purchasers to believe they were purchasing Porsche vehicles that "did not exist, nor would Shiraaz place an order for the such vehicle." Instead, he created the Champion Autosport account and instructed purchasers to wire their deposit money or credit card payments directly into that account.
Sookralli is accused of collecting more than $2.5 million this way and transferring the funds from the Champion Autosport account with Bank of America to his personal accounts. The dealer claims it communicated via email with Sookralli, who "identified twenty-four transactions in his scheme to defraud the plaintiff and consumers. The amount of funds Shiraaz admitted to receiving is $2,560,198," the injunction to freeze the fraudulent bank account reads.
But many users on the Rennlist forum of Porsche enthusiasts, where word of the lawsuits first surfaced, aren't buying the dealership's contention that it knew nothing of the scam before Sookralli disappeared in late August. They've mocked up a faked "WANTED" ad using his likeness.