It was a fast and furious scam that had its last stop behind bars.
A California man who promised to help find new renters for people looking to get out of leases on ultra-luxury cars, has pleaded guilty to just walking off with the vehicles and leaving his clients on the hook for hundreds of thousands in unpaid auto payments.
Geoffrey Eldridge Hull, 41, of Baldwin Hills, Calif., admitted to conning 128 people between 2016 and 2019 into handing over the keys to their leased Ferraris, Maserattis and Bentleys with promises that he’d find people to take over the leases,
Instead, he would rent them out and pocket the money, prosecutors said.
Hull, who operated out of an office on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, was accused of searching for victims on an online service called SwapALease.com where people look to pass on their lease agreements on cars.
He would contact those looking to offload high-end, luxury cars, and offer to find new, credit-worthy people to take over the lease. He even offered to cover the lease price until a new owner was found, prosecutors said.
“Many of the leaseholders had to call the cops to recover their cars, which often were found damaged in other states.”
But once he took possession of the vehicle, prosecutors say Hull would then rent them to others and keep the money. He would then, more often than not, fail to make any payments on the car, leaving the original leaseholders owing thousands for a vehicle they no longer had.
In all, prosecutors say the victims were defrauded out of $1.56 million.
Many of the leaseholders had to call the cops to recover their cars, which often were found damaged in other states. Many had accrued huge toll and parking violations and had far exceeded the mileage limits set under their leases, according to court documents.
Prosecutors say many of the leaseholders suffered serious damage to their credit after futilely bombarding Hull with emails, text messages and legal letters demanding the return of their cars.
“I don’t know what kind of person you are and how you take advantage of people like this, but it’s not right. And you know it’s not right. You take someone’s car and destroy their credit. What kind of person does that?” one victim wrote in a text to Hull, according to court filings.
A message left with Hull’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.
When defrauded customers would post negative reviews online, prosecutors say Hull would then change the name of his company. At times he operated as Exotic Lease Transfer, Luxe Lease Transfer, Shift Lease, Veer Lease or Haven Transfer, among others.
Prosecutors say Hull, who has three prior convictions for grand theft auto, also used a series of aliases as part of the scheme, including “Geoff Eldredge,” “Geoff Eldridge,” “Jefrii Eldridge,” “Geoffrey Hulle,” “Jeff Bluthenthal,” and “Jeff H.”
Officials filed charges against Hull in 2020, following an expose by CBS News in Los Angeles. Hull faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in May.