Kissimmee auto dealer facing multiple wire fraud charges

The owner of an automobile dealership in Kissimmee was indicted this week on two dozen wire fraud charges after he allegedly misrepresented his finances to obtain numerous car titles from another company.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg of the Middle District of Florida announced the return of an indictment charging the owner of NextGear Automotive, identified as 43-year-old Hani Wafik Kaakati, with 24 counts of wire fraud.

According to the indictment, Kaakati, through his dealership, entered into a floorplan financing agreement with a company/victim. While communicating with the victim in September of 2019, Kaakati allegedly misrepresented the availability of funds in his dealership’s bank account.

The victim proceeded to release a total of 24 car titles to Kaakati. After receiving the titles, Kaakati then allegedly withdrew money from his dealership’s bank account to ensure that there were insufficient funds to cover the amount owed to the victim under the agreement.

When the victim initiated 24 Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions with the bank account belonging to Kaakati’s dealership, in the total amount of $528,337.98, all of the transactions were returned due to insufficient funds.

If convicted, Kaakati faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each charge. In addition, the indictment notifies Kaakati that the United States is seeking an order of forfeiture in the amount of at least $443,137.98, which represents the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Risha Asokan.

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