“A majority of the victims listed within the pile of police reports shared similar stories of how they met Galindo and began doing business with him at the West Palm Beach used car lot, Planet Motors. This led the sheriff’s office to begin a criminal investigation.”
Jeremy Galindo, a previous employee of Planet Motors in West Palm Beach, Florida, was arrested on October 11, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida for 12 counts. The charges include Organized Scheme to Defraud, Grand Theft, and Giving Worthless Checks.
An arrest took place as a result of a lengthy investigation conducted by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Financial Crime Unit that began on August 1, 2018. The investigation was in response to numerous complaints filed regarding fraudulent business transactions from a sales manager who was employed at Planet Motors. The sales manager under investigation was later identified as Jeremy Galindo.
A majority of the victims listed within the pile of police reports shared similar stories of how they met Galindo and began doing business with him at the West Palm Beach used car lot, Planet Motors. This led the sheriff’s office to begin a criminal investigation.
Below are summaries of the testimonies provided by the suspect’s victims which led to the criminal investigation, and eventually, an arrest.
Please note: The victims’ names have been changed to protect their identities.
Victim #1 – “Finance Officer’s on Vacation”
On June 10, 2018, John, the first victim, reported purchasing a vehicle at Planet Motors with the assistance of a sales manager named Jeremy Galindo. On July 10, 2018, exactly one month after meeting with Galindo to purchase the vehicle, John returned to verify the address the car dealership had on file for him because he had not yet received a payment book in the mail.
When John returned to Planet Motors, Galindo told him that his first car payment was due and that it would need to be paid before his address could be corrected. John complied and paid Galindo $601.05 in cash. Afterwards, Galindo told him the finance officer was on vacation, so he would take care of the payment himself. Later, John discovered the payment was never applied to his account.
John was unable to positively identify Galindo when given a photo line-up but did point to his photo as who he thought looked most like the sales manager at Planet Motors who he did business with.
Victim #2 – “Needs Repairs First”
Ms. Rhodes reported to police that she was introduced to Galindo as the sales manager who could help with financing at Planet Motors. Rhodes gave Galindo a deposit of $500 to purchase a specified vehicle. However, Galindo explained that the vehicle needed repairs before she could take it off the lot.
After several days of Rhodes attempting to complete the transaction without success, she returned to Planet Motors to find out what was happening. When she arrived, the finance manager regretfully explained that Galindo had stolen the deposit money she had put down towards the vehicle and instructed Rhodes to immediately file a police report.
Ms. Rhodes positively identified Galindo as the sales manager at Planet Motors she gave the cash deposit to.
Victim #3 – Bait and Switch
Mr. Ferguson also visited Planet Motors in an attempt to purchase a vehicle and was immediately assisted by Galindo. Due to his financial situation, Ferguson did not qualify for financing. Therefore, Galindo suggested he come back to the lot in a few days and they could try another lender.
When Ferguson returned to the lot approximately one week later, Galindo told him he was unable to qualify for financing. Instead, the salesman offered to sell Ferguson a vehicle that he, himself, owned which was located at his residence.
Galindo then lured Ferguson to his home where the victim later agreed to purchase the salesman’s personal vehicle, an earlier model Mercedes. A purchase price of $6,000 was negotiated, to include a trade-in amount of $3,000 from the buyer’s current vehicle.
Galindo told Ferguson that the tires and bumper on the Mercedes needed to be repaired before he could sell the vehicle. Ferguson gave Galindo a down payment in cash of $1,000 before leaving that day but was to return two days later to complete the transaction.
When Ferguson returned to Galindo’s home two days later, as instructed, he signed over the title of his current vehicle to Galindo as previously discussed in exchange for $3,000 off the price of the Mercedes. He then agreed to make monthly payments in the amount of $250 per month until the full amount of the Mercedes was paid.
As suggested in the initial transaction, Ferguson brought the Mercedes back to Galindo to have the tires and bumper repaired at the seller’s expense. Galindo provided a truck for Ferguson to drive temporarily while the repairs on the Mercedes were being done. In the interim, while waiting for the completion of the vehicle repairs, Ferguson realized he had not yet received his title and vehicle registration paperwork in the mail for the Mercedes.
Ferguson returned to Galindo’s home in hopes of picking up the Mercedes and mentioned the missing title and registration documents. Galindo did not respond. Instead, he told Ferguson he was going to need his truck back.
Ferguson was confused and explained to Galindo that he was unable to return the truck until the Mercedes was ready for him to pick up. Galindo became agitated and replied that if Ferguson did not return his truck, he would have a tow company go to his house and get it. In addition, Galindo told Ferguson he wasn’t going to give him his money or car back. And if he stepped foot in his house he would shoot him.
Ferguson also explained in his police report that Galindo was holding a small handgun in his hand while threatening him that day, causing the victim to run from the house and fear returning. Fortunately, Ferguson was able to provide pictures, a written contract of the vehicle sale transaction and a video as evidence to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.
Victim #4 – Messy Title
Mr. Conseco also met Jeremy Galindo when visiting Planet Motors in an attempt to purchase a vehicle. Conseco thought he had, in fact, purchased a vehicle that day. He made his first payment in the amount of $1,650 in December of 2017; another payment of $98.00 for his vehicle tag in January of 2018; and another payment of $498.73 in February of 2018. When Conseco went to renew his vehicle’s registration in July of that same year, he was informed that it could not be renewed because there was a hold on the vehicle.
Conseco quickly returned to Planet Motors to find out why there was a hold reported on the vehicle. The response he received from the car lot’s manager was that Galindo had been stealing cash payments from customers and was no longer working for the car lot. However, Conseco did receive a reimbursement of the $498 from a Planet Motors manager. The manager also suggested to the customer to file a police report.
Mr. Conseco was also able to positively identify Galindo as the person he had dealt with on the fraudulent vehicle transaction.
Victim #5 – “Leave a Deposit and I’ll Find You a Car”
Mr. Carlos saw Galindo in a television commercial and went to Planet Motors with the intent to purchase a vehicle. Upon Carlos’ arrival, Galindo had introduced himself as the sales manager. After Carlos explained his financial circumstances, Galindo suggested the customer leave a $500 deposit with him and he would find him a car within a few days. Carlos accepted and gave the salesman the deposit money.
Carlos returned to the used car dealership a few days later. Shortly after his arrival, Galindo took him to a bank in search of a loan. According to the customer’s statement, Galindo waited until Carlos was not looking and left him at the bank. Afterwards, Carlos called Galindo on the phone. Galindo told Carlos to leave the bank and to come back to Planet Motors.
Upon his return to the dealership, Galindo told Carlos he was busy and to come back another day. Days later (and after numerous attempts to reach Galindo by phone) Carlos went back to the dealership where he then met Planet Motor’s manager. She explained that Galindo had been fired for stealing money and suggested the customer file a police report.
Carlos was able to positively identify Galindo as the person he dealt with at Planet Motors and also gave the $500 cash down payment to.
Victim #6 – “I Know a Mechanic”
Mr. Barrera had previously purchased a vehicle, as well as an insurance policy from Jeremy Galindo before requesting the car salesman help him with repairing another vehicle he owned. Galindo agreed to assist Barrera and claimed he knew of a mechanic who could fix the vehicle for $1,700.
Barrera agreed on the repair amount. Galindo arranged to have a tow truck from a commercial towing company pick up the vehicle at Barrera’s residence on July 5, 2018.
Barrera indicated on the police report that before the vehicle was towed, he gave the tow truck driver $1,000 as part of the payment to Galindo for the vehicle repairs. Shortly after the vehicle had been towed, Galindo informed Barrera that the vehicle was at his friend’s auto repair shop, but the repairs were not completed.
Over the next few weeks, Barrera had been in contact with Galindo regarding the status of his vehicle’s repairs. Yet, no address or business name had been provided. As days turned into weeks, Galindo stopped responding to Barrera’s attempts to contact him altogether.
Mr. Barrera eventually reached out to the tow truck driver and asked if he would be willing to discuss the transaction he had been involved in between himself and Mr. Galindo. The driver agreed and stated that he had picked up vehicles on occasion for Galindo.
In this instance, Galindo had asked the driver to collect $1,000 from Barrera before towing the vehicle. The driver also added that he had kept a receipt of the transaction documenting that he, himself, had given the $4,000 to Galindo and was able to provide a copy of the receipt. In addition, the driver explained that after a few days of dropping the vehicle off to Galindo at Planet Motors, he was called again to pick the vehicle back up.
The tow truck driver’s new instructions were to drop off the vehicle at a mechanics lot also located in West Palm Beach. Tow receipts were provided confirming the exact dates, times and locations of the tows completed for Galindo involving Barrera’s vehicle.
Barrera and his vehicle were ultimately reunited. He was able to positively identify Galindo to law enforcement as the car salesman he dealt with at Planet Motors.
Victim #7 – “There’s A Problem with the Paperwork”
Mrs. Hayes was referred to Galindo when she needed to purchase a vehicle. She had given him a down payment in the amount of $800. Galindo gave her a receipt but explained there was ‘an internal problem with paperwork’. Therefore, Hayes left the car lot without the vehicle.
After multiple efforts to complete the transaction without success, Hayes told Galindo to cancel the deal and to return the down payment amount. Galindo assured her that canceling the transaction was no problem and she could come back to the dealership to pick up her refund.
When Hayes returned to Planet Motors to collect her refund, she was informed that Galindo had quit and that she should contact the police. Hayes instead immediately called Galindo in hopes of clearing up the matter. He answered.
Hayes explained to Galindo that the dealership had suggested she contact the police about her missing down payment money. Galindo pleaded with her to not call the police. In exchange for her discretion, he would write her a check for $1,000. That amount was two hundred dollars more than the amount Hayes had originally provided as a down payment.
Hayes heeded to Galindo’s request and accepted the $1,000 check. But after she deposited it, the check bounced.
Approximately five days later, Hayes returned to her bank to cash out her supplemental security income payment but was informed by the bank teller that the money was gone. $1,335 was taken from her account without her authorization. The teller also informed Hayes that Jeremy Galindo was documented as the individual who was withdrawing the funds from her account.
Hayes had initially given Galindo her banking information when setting up automatic payments for purchasing a vehicle and believes he used this information to get into her bank account.
Hayes added to her statement that she had also given Galindo $641 for insurance and had been given a receipt for it that same day she was trying to purchase a vehicle. Galindo told Hayes the cost of the insurance was actually $650, but he would cover the difference as he would be using his own credit card to make the actual payment to the insurance company. Nonetheless, no evidence of the electronic transfer was found in Galindo’s accounts.
Mrs. Hayes was able to positively identify Galindo as the person she dealt with at Planet Motors.
Victim #8 – “It’s in the Shop”
Mr. Nortez found Galindo through the Offer Up app while searching to buy a truck in August of 2018. Nortez selected a Ford F-250 and gave Galindo $8,000 in cash and a trade-in vehicle in exchange for the truck for sale. Within three days of the sale, Nortez noticed the truck he had just purchased was having engine problems. He called Galindo about the trouble right away and Galindo assured Nortez the repairs could be covered under an insurance policy.
Galindo picked up the truck from Nortez’s home to take it for the necessary repairs. After the truck had been ‘in the shop’ for some time and he had not received a response from his calls to Galindo, Nortez decided to return to Planet Motors.
When Nortez arrived at the dealership, he was told by the dealership manager that he was one of many customers who had been defrauded by Galindo and that he should contact the police to make a report.
Nortez did file a police report, but continued to attempt to reach Galindo by phone hoping to get his truck back. He finally succeeded by offering Galindo another $2,000. But Nortez told Galindo that he needed the vehicle’s title before he would release any additional money.
Galindo responded that he did not have the vehicle’s title with him, but he would mail it to the customer.
Nortez agreed to those terms.
When Nortez finally received the truck, it was obvious the repairs were never done. And while meeting with a mechanic about getting the necessary repairs, the customer learned there was a lien on the vehicle.
By this point, Nortez had still not received a title from Galindo and decided to cooperate with the police in pressing charges.
Victim #9 – “Being Repaired Due to a Recall Order”
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson visited Planet Motors in August of 2018 to find a vehicle for their daughter and met Galindo. Due to a lack of credit, the couple was told they were unable to qualify for a loan for that particular vehicle. But before leaving the dealership, Mr. Johnson saw a truck on the lot that was also for sale and decided to buy it. He told Galindo that he and his wife would return the following day with the money.
While Mrs. Johnson was at work, she received a call from Galindo. He told her he would need a down payment for the truck right away. Therefore, Mrs. Johnson arranged to make a payment using a Square account in the amount of $1,000. She was later able to provide proof to police using a copy of that receipt.
The Johnsons never did receive that truck. In several attempts to redeem the vehicle, Galindo repeatedly told the customers that the truck was being repaired due to a recall order. Finally, the Johnsons requested to receive their deposit money back. In response, Galindo sent them a check that was no good.
The Johnsons were able to supply the police with a copy of that bad check which indicated it was payed from an account belonging to a company called ‘Southern Automotive DIAG INC’. The address on the check was identical to Galindo’s residential address.
Mrs. Johnson explained she was no longer able to use the mobile deposits feature on her bank account due to the problem which resulted from Galindo’s bad check.
She revisited Planet Motors in the middle of August of that same year to confront Galindo about refunding her down payment amount but was also directed to the manager who informed her that Galindo had been defrauding customers.
Mrs. Johnson reported the situation to the police and was able to positively identify Galindo as the man she had dealt with at Planet Motors and who had stolen the down payment money.
Victim #10 – “It’s Late. You’ll Have to Pick up the Car Tomorrow”
Mr. Cerda visited Planet Motors in January of 2018 where he met Galindo while shopping for a vehicle with his parents. Nonetheless, he did not purchase a vehicle that day, but later remembered an older Dodge Charger that was on the lot.
Cerda returned to the dealership with his father intending to purchase the Charger. Galindo also assisted him upon his return and told Cerda the down payment for the vehicle would be $3,000. Cerda made the down payment that day, but Galindo told him it was late, so he would have to pick up the car the next day.
When Cerda returned the following day, Galindo said he was having problems with the finance company on Cerda’s transaction for buying the Charger. By the end of that same day, Galindo informed the customer that he would not be able to purchase the Charger after all. Nonetheless, the salesman explained he was able to find another vehicle for Cerda to purchase.
Mr. Cerda refused Galindo’s offer and requested his down payment be refunded. Galindo responded that he was unable to return the down payment money right away because it had already been submitted to the finance company and it would have to be released by them.
After leaving Planet Motors that day, Cerda repeatedly tried to collect his down payment from Galindo without success. Then his father was injured in a bad accident preventing him to follow up on the matter. When his circumstances had improved, Cerda returned to Planet Motors in hopes of collecting the down payment. Unfortunately, upon his return, he also was informed by the manager about Galindo’s repeated fraudulent activity with customers and was told to file a police report.
Cerda was able to positively identify Galindo as the salesman at Planet Motors that he had dealt with and given his down payment to.
Victim #11 “There’s No Problem with Giving Me Cash Deposits”
Ms. Brown met Galindo in April of 2018 while visiting Planet Motors with her daughter who did in fact buy a car from Galindo that day. Brown had been talking with the salesman throughout the visit. During their conversation Galindo told her about a Mercedes he thought she would be interested in buying.
After negotiating a payment strategy, Brown eventually agreed to buy the Mercedes. She paid Galindo an initial cash down payment of $1,500 that day; made a second cash payment of $1,000 on May 1st and a third cash payment of $500 approximately two weeks later. With the completion of the $3,000 down payment, Brown was to continue making monthly payments of $250 for the Mercedes until the vehicle was paid in full.
Within her complaint, Ms. Brown had mentioned giving some of the cash deposits while inside the office of Planet Motors. She thought it was strange to pay the deposits in cash to Galindo and told him as such. But the salesman assured her he was the manager and there was no problem with her bringing him cash.
Somehow, Galindo had also advised Brown to sign the title of the vehicle over to him, so he would be able to transfer the vehicle back to her. Later, Galindo convinced Brown to allow him to pick up the Mercedes for a repair and never returned it.
Ms. Brown was able to positively identify Galindo as the salesman who she gave her cash deposit money to and dealt with at Planet Motors.
Victim #12 – What Cash Deposits?
Mr. Isaac dealt with Galindo at Planet Motors and agreed to purchase a Ford Truck for the price of $20,000. Isaac paid a cash down payment of $1,000 to the salesman and traded in his personal vehicle in exchange as an additional down payment of $2,500. Two weeks later, Isaac returned to the dealership and paid an additional $500 cash to Galindo each week after to complete what he owed for the negotiated down payment.
Isaac never received a receipt for any of the cash payments. When the police asked why he never asked for receipts, Isaac explained that he trusted Galindo because he told him he was the sales manager.
Assuming the truck had been paid in full, Isaac returned to Planet Motors to retrieve the title for the truck he had purchased. However, when he met with the finance manager he was told he still owed money on the vehicle. After further discussing the matter, Isaac learned that out of the two $500 cash payments he had given to Galindo initially, only $190 had been submitted and that was for the title transfer. Galindo had apparently pocketed the remaining balance.
Mr. Isaac was able to positively identify Galindo as the salesman he gave his money to and dealt with at Planet Motors.
Victim #13 – In Search of a Vehicle for Mom
Mr. Sanders reported to police that he was in search of a vehicle for his mother and had given Galindo a down payment of $2,000 in cash at Planet Motors in June of 2018. Sanders had claimed to have been away for a while, but after several attempts to retrieve the vehicle for his mother, he had never heard back from Galindo.
When Sanders got back into town and returned to Planet Motors, he was informed by the dealership’s manager about Galindo’s fraudulent schemes. He too was cheated out of his down payment money and told to submit a report to law enforcement.
Victim #14 – “I Can Sell Your Vehicle for You. Go Ahead and Leave It”
Ms. Jones met Galindo at Planet Motors when she visited the dealership in hopes of refinancing her vehicle. Galindo offered to sell her vehicle on the Planet Motors lot and she agreed. Jones left the car on the lot in the care of Galindo.
Weeks had passed without any word from Galindo at all. She had no idea if her vehicle had been sold or not. Jones returned to the lot to find out what was going on. When she arrived at the dealership, Jones was informed that Galindo had been fired. Jones’ vehicle was not anywhere on the lot and the dealership manager had no knowledge of it. The manager suggested she contact the police to report the vehicle stolen.
Within one month of Jones reporting her vehicle stolen, a deputy from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office contacted her to let her know that her vehicle was involved in a hit and run crash and was totaled. The suspects who were seen fleeing from the vehicle were two black males not matching the description of Jeremy Galindo. Needless to say, Jones was never able to recover her vehicle.
Victim #15 – Owner of Planet Motors
Michelle Minkin, the owner of Planet Motors, was also included as a victim in the investigation of Jeremy Galindo. Minkin told investigators that she was able to trace the victims who had filed police reports against Galindo and compare the dollar amounts specified in the statements included within their police reports within the dealerships’ internal customer accounts.
The dealership owner identified Galindo through a photo provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. She agreed to cooperate with a criminal prosecution against Galindo for his fraudulent behavior.
Defendant’s Post-Miranda Statement
During Jeremy Galindo’s post Miranda interview statement at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Galindo never admitted to stealing anyone’s money and denied knowing why those who filed police reports did so. Galindo did claim to have taken money from customers, but would always put it in the mailbox to be sent out to the finance office.
However, when the deputy interviewed the owner of Planet Motors about the allegations against Galindo, she explained that Galindo was never authorized to take money from customers.
Hard Copy Evidence
During the Palm Beach County Sheriff Office’s investigation on Jeremy Galindo at Planet Motors, there was plenty of hard copy evidence provided. Between Galindo’s bank accounts and the transactions noted within the police report statements submitted by the long list of victims, the law enforcement agency had sufficient evidence to arrest Jeremy Galindo On October 11, 2019 for the below charges:
- FRAUD-SWINDLE – OBTAIN PROPERTY UNDER 20K DOLS
- 10 counts of LARC – GRAND THEFT 300 LESS THAN 5K DOLS
- FRAUD – INSUFF FUNDS CHECK – MAKE UTTER ISSUE 150 DOLS OR OVER
As of this date, Galindo remains incarcerated at the Palm Beach County Detention Center in West Palm Beach. Due to a previous probation violation, Galindo has not been eligible for release.
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