After searching for help and answers in other places, I find myself posting here....as I have seen the knowledge & results from this site. I could kindly use some help right now.
I bought a plane, through a broker. Went down to the States to get the plane and was informed by the mechanic that the seller told him to NOT release the plane to me as the seller had not been paid in full for the plane through the broker. I flew back home without the plane or my money. A week as passed since this took place and so far I feel like I'm spinning my wheels, nothing is getting done.
Details: I located a Cessna 182 on a broker website, www.aircoinc.com The brokers name is Jim Armstrong from Buffalo Minnesota. I contacted the broker, told him I was interested in purchasing the plane. He gave me contact info for the mechanic shop where the plane is located near Atlanta Georgia. I called the shop, ask many questions about the plane, (over the phone pre-buy) had some email pictures sent to me. Next the broker told me that the seller was very motivated because he was going through a divorce and needed the money quickly to settle with his wife. (in hind site I should have known!)
I wired the broker the full amount of the sale price, $39,900. I was faxed a copy of the FAA "Bill of Sale", that was signed and dated by the seller, and the Bill of Sale included the N number and serial number. The Bill of Sale was NOT completed, it did NOT include the sale price, or my name. We were suppose to finish the bill of sale when I got the plane, and I was to be handed the ORIGINAL, ink-signed document. I was also faxed a hand-written contract from the broker which said, I was buying the plane for $39,900, this included the N number, serial number, terms of the deal which included the seller & broker splitting the cost of the anual, I was to recieve the orginal Bill of Sale, date this transaction took place, and acknowledgment that the broker was the agent for the seller.
Through this process, at first, I trusted the mechanic as representing the airplane in a honest manor. At first, I also trusted that the seller was being honest with me. From the very begining I had a bad feeling about the broker and trusted him about like a used car salesmen, however I THOUGHT I had enough paper work to cover myself, and my money, if this deal went bad. For what its worth, I have bought and sold several planes over the years, however its always been person-to-person and a CASH deal.
While I was at the mechanic shop in Georgia I was doing my best to jump in the plane and fly away, and hopefully somehow get the original Bill of Sale, signed in ink. That didn't happen. During this process the seller told me on the phone that the broker had only giving him $3,000, and he wasn't going to release the plane to me until he got paid. While I understand his position, my position was that I have paid in full for the plane and if the seller and the broker had problems, that was there problems and they needed to work it out between themselves.
According the fine print on the Bill of Sale, it must be submitted to the FAA as the original document, signed in ink.
I got back home and got a call from a local Police detective in Buffalo MN. He told me this broker was a long time crook and was recently released on $50,000 cash bail, from charges steming from a different plane brokerage deal that went bad.
Through my own resources I did a background ck on the broker, James Criag Armstrong, and found out that he currently has 22 liens and judgements against him. I started calling everyone on the list who he owes money to. They all have a similar story about getting screwed on an airplane transaction.
My attorney located in Anchorage has been in contact with the broker who said he would give my money back. I was suppose to recive a wire transfer for the past week that hasn't happened. More lies.
The BIG QUESTION?
Where do I stand? How can I get my money back? Do I have an argument to get a "clear title" to the plane? I don't have a good feeling about the attorney I'm currently using because I'm not sure how much aviation law he gets into. How do I go about getting the plane?
I know I can spend a considerable amount of money and proabably get a judgment against the broker, however he already has 22 other people waiting in line that he owes money to. This guy is a lifelong crook, even if I get a judgment, its' only a piece of paper that says he owes me money.
There is another side of this also, the crimal case. I have contacted the local police in Buffalo MN. and they know whats going on, and I think they'll proocute the case.
I have also contacted the FBI in the Atlanta office and the Minniapolis office. In no un-certain terms that told they wouldn't do anything about it. In fact, one agent told me that if I didn't have at least 2 dead bodies and a truck-load of cocaine they wouldn't even open a case file for this. Told me there focus is on National Security and anti-terrorisum.
Good Flying..>Byron Lamb