Fraud lawsuit filed over vehicle 'gift'

By Jon Campisi | Jul 13, 2011

A woman who claims she got saddled with car payments for a vehicle that was supposed to be a gift from her ex-boyfriend is suing her former paramour in civil court.

Philadelphia attorneys Henry I. Langsam and Denise A. Kuestner, of Langsam Stevens & Silver LLP, filed the fraud complaint July 11 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Washington, D.C. resident Makuyo F. Nettey.

According to the lawsuit, the defendant, Philadelphia resident Benjamin A. Easley, Nettey’s boyfriend at the time, decided to purchase a vehicle for Nettey at a car dealership in Sewell, New Jersey. Before Nettey ever visited the dealership, however, the defendant had gone there and picked out a Land Rover that he liked.

When it came time to purchase the vehicle, Easley told Nettey that he couldn’t purchase the vehicle himself because of a federal hold on his credit, so he suggested Nettey purchase the vehicle, but he would agree to make the monthly payments, the lawsuit claims.

In November 2010, Nettey purchased the vehicle with the understanding that Easely would pay for it.

In February of this year, unbeknownst to Nettey, title for the vehicle was registered in the District of Columbia, the lawsuit states. About a month later, Nettey and Easley broke up. During this time period, the two devised a plan to share the vehicle.

Eventually, Easley had the vehicle registered in Pennsylvania as his own vehicle, the suit states. It was around this same time that Nettey had revoked her ex’s use of the vehicle. Nevertheless, Easley failed and refused to turn over the vehicle to Nettey, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit states that Easley is believed to hold “false but registered title” to the vehicle in his own name.

Through the complaint, Nettey’s lawyers argue that Easley’s “modus operandi is to procure and secure property and monies from purported girlfriends/fiancés by using confidence gaining skills to procure their trust, and then procure property and monies but finally absconding and converting the same to Easley’s own use and benefit all with an overlay of threats of physical bodily harm if any protest were to occur.”

“Easley is a skilled and practiced con man and wrongdoer and he applied those skills against the plaintiff to Nettey’s detriment,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint alleges that Easley intentionally misled Nettey into buying the vehicle.

“Defendant Easley’s conduct was intentional, willful, malicious, oppressive, wanton, outrageous and/or reckless, caused actual damage and was beyond acceptable societal norms,” the suit states.

The lawsuit contains counts of fraud, conversion, constructive fraud, negligent misrepresentation, violation of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices Act and Consumer Protection Law, constructive trust/tracing and restitution at law and unjust enrichment.

For each of the charges listed in the suit, Nettey seeks judgment against Easley in excess of $50,000 plus attorneys’ fees and related costs.

The non-jury matter has not yet been scheduled for arbitration.

The case number is 110700842.

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