Better Call Behnken: Owner of Tampa car dealership accused of rolling back odometers arrested

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The owner of a Tampa car dealership faces 42 felony charges, accused of funneling cars through her company, then rolling back odometers and flipping the vehicles to unsuspecting buyers on Craig’s List.

The arrest of Soreny Marin Vargas comes after an 8 On Your Side investigation shined a light on one of the “low mileage” deals.

Florida Highway Patrol investigated and found other victims.

Marin Vargas faces multiple charges of uttering a forged instrument, scheme to defraud and odometer fraud.

Investigators say Marin Vargas used her dealership, Tampa Preferred Motors, to buy high mileage cars at auctions and from other dealerships.

She would then, according to FHP, “solicit family members in Venezuela to provide her copies of their passports in order to use their information to title vehicles in their names.”

The dealership, investigators say, would then roll the odometers back to reflect a significantly lower mileage and then sell those cars to unsuspecting buyers on Craig’s List.

One of those buyers, Mary Ellen Morgan, turned to 8 On Your Side in February, after she bought a van on Craig’s List. It was advertised as having 108,000 miles, but it actually had nearly 178,000 miles.

The van had trouble on the way home, after Morgan paid $5,000 in cash to someone representing Marin Vargas. The deal was made in a Target parking lot in Brandon.

Morgan is thrilled to hear of the arrest and she’s hopeful she’ll get her money back so she can buy a more reliable van.

“I can’t go very far with this van because it is not in the best of shape,” Morgan said, adding that she hopes this arrest will save other car buyers from going through the same trouble.

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