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Treadz Auto owner pleads guilty to $2M vehicle consignment fraud

Sept 7, 2018 ( Courtesy of CBC.ca ) – A Calgary man who bilked dozens of Calgary car owners out of more than $2 million has pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud over $5,000.

Sean O’Brien was facing 164 fraud and theft charges in connection to his vehicle consignment company, Treadz Auto Group.

Nearly 100 people agreed to sell their vehicles on consignment through Treadz Auto Group from 2011 to 2014, each of them paying $299 and signing a contract.

Treadz never compensated the owners after the cars were sold to unsuspecting buyers.

“Many of the people selling their cars, taking them in for consignment, didn’t own them outright,” said prosecutor Steven Johnston. “So you ended up with victims where they’re continuing to pay for the car that they don’t own.”

There were 20 victim impact statements filed with the court but police and prosecutors struggled to make contact with all of O’Brien’s victims.

Some people were left making monthly payments on vehicles they were no longer driving. One woman described a “gigantic financial stress” with another victim writing that his personal credit was “horribly affected” by the Treadz fraud.

The owner of the now-defunct company — which was located on Fairmount Drive S.E. — also re-registered dozens of vehicles in the company’s name using fraudulent documents in order to secure a loan from a credit company for nearly $500,000, which was never repaid.

A sentencing hearing is now underway.

The prosecution and defence are asking the judge to impose a three-year prison term.

O’Brien will not be sentenced today. Justice Willie deWit has agreed to reserve his sentencing decision until after O’Brien’s wife recovers from surgery.