MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hugo Caseiro believes he’s doing nothing wrong by rebuilding Hurricane Sandy flood cars and re-selling them around South Florida.
Caseiro runs his company, C & C Auto of Miami, out of his family’s home off Southwest 8th street and 129th avenue.
The longtime mechanic explained to CBS4’s Chief Consumer Investigator Al Sunshine, “The person who’s getting this car which I already sold right now, is getting an awesome deal.”
Sunshine asked Caseiro if his customers are aware that they were purchasing a flood car.
“Of Course,” Caseiro added, “we do all electrical work, everything the car possibly needs, do you see a light on the dash? We take care of everything.”
All though Caseiro insists he is doing nothing wrong, local auto theft investigators have charged him with 33 counts of illegally possessing Florida motor vehicle identification numbers, altering them, and violating the state’s automotive title regulations.
From the air, it looks like his business is doing pretty well. His family’s West Miami-Dade Home is surrounded by cars and looks more like a busy used car lot than a local home.
It is believed there could be as many as 250,000 Sandy flood cars on the market nationally and talking about rebuilding and reselling them around South Florida is not a popular subject.
Mechanics at Hialeah’s “Mufflers for Less” confirm they’ve been busy rebuilding Sandy cars. They believe they can be good deals for consumers, as long as they know upfront it’s a rebuilt flood car.
The manager at “Mufflers for Less,” who calls himself JT, explained, “When any flood car comes, you have to tell them. First of all you can’t finance the car, second of all, they’re getting a deal because of it’s worth $10,000 they’re getting it for $5000.” Lastly, JT explained, “You have to tell them, you have to tell them, because it’s on the title.”
Local auto theft experts told Sunshine that they believe, in many cases, the identities of Hurricane Sandy cars are not being disclosed to local consumers.
That’s because a vehicle with a clean title, not labeled a flood car or re-built wreck, can sell for twice as much as the reworked flood car.
Some insiders told Sunshine that in the used car business, it’s a common practice.
Hialeah used car salesman Richard Jones of “Mufflers for Less” said, “Apparently to get over and try to scam the customer.”
CBS4’s Sunshine asked him if it’s being done. Jones answered, “South Florida people are scamming people left and right. It’s buyer beware down here.”
As it turns out, selling a Hurricane Sandy flood car is not against the law in the state of Florida as long as the car’s history is disclosed to the new buyer, and it’s branded as a flood car on the title.