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    Gig Harbor Washington Alleged Swindler Brian T. Hall and Michele A. Hall Stand Accused of Running Car Restoration Racket


    An increasing number of car enthusiasts are repairing vintage vehicles. Old Chevy trucks and Ford Broncos are seeing a renaissance among enthusiasts of classic American automobiles. Land Rover Defenders appeal to those who are enamored with safari experiences. Like Broncos, new Defenders are advertised and sold in the United States, but the demand for vintage Defenders is still strong. Defenders’ rehabilitation process is fraught with difficulties. Frequently, it disappears into the grey market, or even worse, when shops restore vintage Defenders, producing Frankenstein vehicles that were outlawed in the US for security concerns. Imagine how you would feel if the shop simply made your car disappear along with the money you paid the shop owners or if the shop refused to show you your vehicle, falsely claiming that you owe money for storage or additional repairs never requested or documented. It was as if ending up with an illegal Defender after spending thousands of dollars needed to improve. US restoration is increasing.

    Following COVID, victims of auto repair swindling are retaliating, and federal officials, including the FBI, are paying attention. The losses amount to millions of dollars, and it is frequently, if not always, impossible to retrieve the cars and the money. Car collectors are being cautioned by authorities and victims to exercise caution and ensure they have written agreements with the auto restoration firm.

    Earlier last year, U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced that Clark P. Rittersbach, 49, of Cape Coral, Florida, was criminally charged with wire swindling, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

    According to the criminal accusations, Rittersbach was the owner of Concours Classic Motor Cars in Macedon, New York. The business has many long-distance and foreign clients despite claiming to be an expert in repairing and selling historic cars. Rittersbach has been deceitfully billing at least three victims for restoration work on their vintage cars that he either did not finish or did not execute at all, even though he informed them by text and email that he had, at least since 2017.

    Rittersbach swindled the three victims out of at least $1.15 million due to this criminal racket. Among the fictitious repair efforts were a 1964 Porsche 356C that the victim never got and a 1932 Duesenberg Murphy that the second victim never got. The scammer falsely claimed to have repaired a 1926 Rolls Royce “Silver Ghost,” according to the U.S. Attorney handling the case. The victim auto collector exposed the blatant con artist by hiring lawyers and private investigators. Under the guidance of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the criminal case.

    In 2022, victims of an alleged vintage car restoration racket that the Halls reportedly ran for years sued Brian T. Hall and Michele A. Hall of Gig Harbour, Washington. This is just another example of a car restoration gone bad. Millions in damages are sought in the claims. The victims claimed in court documents that the Halls conned them over an eight-year swindling scheme involving false billing, delays based on incidents of third-party vandalism to the victims’ vehicles, bad faith, swindling mechanics’ liens, and finally, a vanished car. The Halls and their Land Rover Defender restoration company, Defenders Northwest, LLC, were accused of swindling the victims. In retaliation for the attorneys’ and their clients’ resistance to the Halls’ demands that they turn over the car entrusted to them, Defenders Northwest and the Halls went on the attack and began to harass and defame them. Legal filings state that litigation arose when the swindling was discovered.

    The Land Rover Defender 130 entrusted to Michele Hall and Brian Hall for restoration over eight years ago was the victim of a scheme to swindle them, as detailed in court filings. Online cautionary analysis of Brian Hall and Defenders Northwest LLC did not reveal any red flags. To serve the close-knit vintage Land Rover Defender community, The Halls featured do-it-yourself suggestions, group trips, off-road rallies, and Cars & Coffee events. Their clean Facebook and Instagram posts highlighted their off-road enthusiasts and hobbyists. The seemingly healthy online persona was, in retrospect, a front. A closer look indicated personal insolvency and demonstrated the Halls’ debt load. Another defamation complaint against Brian and Michele Hall claims that the Halls targeted the plaintiffs’ attorneys after being sued and posting derogatory and inaccurate material on social media and other websites.

    In another incident, according to, an automotive news site, the FBI and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York have lifted the lid on a swindling scheme involving classic cars that have scammed buyers out of $4.5 million. The swindlers were charged with ‘conspiracy to commit wire swindling and conspiracy to commit concealment money laundering.’ They used several fictitious accounts to launder the victims’ money after putting up phony online advertisements for the sale of vintage cars. They conducted their bogus repair plan from November 2016 to July of this year. According to the article, each of the accused con artists may spend up to 50 years in jail if found guilty of wire swindling and money laundering. The deceivers change over time. According to, the newest tactic is for some dubious auto restoration businesses to relocate into posh buildings and pretend to be highly successful. While the car is being restored, authorities and attorneys advise hiring private investigators and keeping an eye on it.

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    Josie Patra
    Josie Patra is a veteran writer with 21 years of experience. She comes with multiple degrees in literature, computer applications, multimedia design, and management. She delves into a plethora of niches and offers expert guidance on finances, stock market, budgeting, marketing strategies, and such other domains. Josie has also authored books on management, productivity, and digital marketing strategies.

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