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Buyer beware — sometimes deals are too good to be true

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

When a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Palm Harbor resident Herbert Bloom learned that the hard way.

In 2014 Bloom saw an add for a 1987 Chevy Corevette. The listing in the Tampa Bay Times advertised the vehicle as a mint condition, must-see ride with “many extras” and only 19,500 original miles.

The asking price was $12,000. Bloom ended up buying the car from Lutz business owner Richard Snell for $10,000.

An online search of 1987 Corvette values showed the cars could range anywhere from about $6,000 to nearly $18,000 depending on the condition and exact model. Given that this car was listed as not only in  “mint condition” but also with “many extras” and unbelievably low mileage, Bloom likely assumed it was worth top dollar.

Now Bloom is suing Snell for damages based on fraud and breach of contract after learning the car actually had 119,500 miles on it, not 19,500. Bloom also discovered the car is not in good working condition.

Snell also reportedly told Bloom he purchased the car from a doctor in New Jersey, but Bloom found out it was actually purchased from a Fort Lauderdale pawn shop.

The discrepancy in mileage is likely due to the fact that many odometers pre-1990s only went up to five digits, not six. That meant that once a car hit 100,000 miles the odometer “rolled over” and appeared to start again from one.

However, its difficult to pinpoint how many times an odometer has rolled over, if at all. If Bloom didn’t think that may have been a possibility and couldn’t ascertain the condition of the car prior to purchasing it, it’s likely a mechanic suggested the car had more miles than it did.

According to his lawsuit, Bloom allegedly tried to return the car to Snell, but Snell refused.

Florida’s lemon law does not apply to used-car purchases from private sellers.

Snell owns a food truck company in Lutz called the Yum Yum Truck. It’s not clear whether this lawsuit could affect that business.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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