Local theft victims warn others of a growing scam involving dirt bike, ATV sales and fake money

Posted at 5:17 PM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 18:15:50-05

News 5 has uncovered a widespread scam that starts online and ends with stolen ATVs or dirt bikes and counterfeit money.

“I thought I knew, I thought I knew, but he got the best of me," said Hinckley resident Justin Muhek referring to a man who he said stole his ATV in August. 

“He proceeded to hand me fake $100 bills and took off on the bike," said Cuyahoga Falls resident Zak Boll who also said he got his ATV stolen.

Muhek and Boll tell a very similar story. Both said they posted their ATV for sale on Craigslist and both received a call from an interested buyer. That man told them that he would pay extra to have the bike delivered to a particular location. Muhek said he met a man at a house in Cleveland. Boll said he met a man at a school in East Cleveland.

“I had the feeling that when I went up there, something wasn’t right," added Boll. "But I still went through with it.”

They said the man asked to take it for a test drive and gave them what appeared to be money before he took off. But it turned out to be fake, and it was disguised in an envelope or rolled up in a rubber band.

“I never would have thought it would have been counterfeit money," said Muhek.

They said the man on the ATV never returned.

“He ripped the quad right out of the back of the truck and took off," Muhek added.

Cleveland police and East Cleveland police did not respond to News 5's request for comment on the cases. Muhek and Boll said there have been no updates or arrests.

According to a Facebook page for theft victims of ATVs and dirt bikes in Northeast Ohio, Muhek and Boll's cases are not unique. There are multiple posts alleging the same scam. Other people said they too got counterfeit money for their two or four-wheelers.

"Unfortunately, there's not much we can do," said Sgt. James Mendolera of the Garfield Heights Police Department, which just took a report on Sunday of a stolen dirt bike involving counterfeit bills. 

Mendolera said it's difficult to catch thieves on the two or four-wheelers.

"They’re very fast," he said. "They go off the road easily.”

He also said it's often just as difficult to catch them off the vehicles because they scratch the serial numbers off or the owners never wrote them down.

“Don’t drive anywhere to sell your quad, unless it’s a place you know of, that you’re familiar with," said Muhek. "And don’t let them take it for a test drive.”