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Gibsonton car dealers cheated lender, troopers say

Haytham Abdulatif Daas and Peggy Ann Daas used names and information provided by actual customers to create 35 fake contracts for the purchase of vehicles, the Florida Highway Patrol found.
Peggy Ann Daas, left, and Haytham Abdulatif Daas were arrested Friday after Florida Highway Patrol investigators concluded they had used their Gibsonton car dealership, Heath's Exotic Cars, to defraud a financial institution.
Peggy Ann Daas, left, and Haytham Abdulatif Daas were arrested Friday after Florida Highway Patrol investigators concluded they had used their Gibsonton car dealership, Heath's Exotic Cars, to defraud a financial institution.
Published Dec. 21, 2019

GIBSONTON — A husband and wife were in jail Saturday after using their car dealership, Heath’s Exotic Cars, to defraud another business last year, according to an investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

For several months in 2018, Haytham Abdulatif Daas, 61, and Peggy Ann Daas, 59, of Valrico, created 35 fake vehicle purchase contracts using names and information they had received from customers, including one who had died five years earlier, troopers said. They then sold loans connected to the bogus sales to Mid-Atlantic Finance Company.

It added up to “a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses,” according to the Highway Patrol. They were arrested Friday.

Each faces 35 counts of five different charges, according to Hillsborough County jail records: organized fraud over $50,000; uttering a forged instrument; making false or misleading financial statements, making false statement to merchants; and making false statements to obtain property on credit.

Typically, Mid-Atlantic purchases loans from dealerships that can show that a car buyer has made three months of on-time payments. Haytham and Peggy Daas altered existing and legitimate contracts, as well as created new and fraudulent ones, to make it appear that payments had been made when they hadn’t, troopers said.

At least two cars were titled to actual customers without their knowledge or payment, but never registered. Loans for those vehicles were sold to Mid-Atlantic, which then wired $139,000 to Heath’s Exotic Cars. The total amount of money involved in the fraudulent transactions was not released by investigators.

The couple also signed an agreement to repurchase loans from Mid-Atlantic should payments not be made on them. To meet those conditions, they used fraudulent Amscot money orders on which they forged the signatures of the customers whose information they used on the fake contracts.

Using a phone app that generates false phone numbers, the couple would call Mid-Atlantic and impersonate those listed on the contracts during enrollment for new customers, the highway patrol said. Investigators said the scheme entailed creating fraudulent credit and title applications, retail installment contracts, buyer orders and payment histories.

Haytham and Peggy Daas remained in Hillsborough County’s Orient Road Jail Saturday, he without bail and she in lieu of $700,000 bail.