87 Monte SS Blacklist
Liars, Thieves & Charlatans - UPDATED 3/7/12
Well, it was destined to happen. Sooner or later, when you deal with enough vendors online, you run into the inevitable clip artist. This page is dedicated to telling the whole world just what a dastardly villain I have had the great misfortune to become entangled with. Criminal of the day... Paul Castelbuono and World of Motorworks. I tweaked his webpage logo (below), to better reflect his business practices.
In Colonial America, the stocks were devices used as a form of physical punishment involving public humiliation. Since legal resources are beyond the means of the average Joe, I have created a modern version of the stocks for this fine fellow.
Stocks involved placing the offender's ankles through two or three holes in the center of a board which was locked in place. He would be subjected to whatever treatment those who passed by could imagine. This could include tickling or whipping of the unprotected feet (shoes being the first things to be stolen), or being pelted with refuse. Paul's getting off easy.
On Monday July 12th I received the invoice for the item I had purchased from World of Motorworks. The total was 1,200.00 dollars plus 249.00 shipping for a total of 1,449.00 dollars. On Tuesday, July 13th, I received email confirmation that my payment had been received. On Friday July 23rd, I emailed the vendor inquiring about delivery notification. He replied the same day that he had broken his foot and he would call me with the freight information on July 27th.
Thus began the odyssey of my stupidity (in trusting an eBay vendor) in using eBay as one would a trusted merchant. And if you think you're protected by using PayPal, think again buddy. They'll only protect you if you file a "INR" (item not received) claim within 30 days. Just like any other bank, PayPal stacks the deck in their favor urging you to resolve any issues you have with a seller between the two of you. This is what I attempted... and now... well, just keep reading.
Timeline of events:
Monday, July 12th 2010: I received the invoice for the Buick Grand National rear end I had purchased from World of Motorworks, via an eBay "buy it now" auction. The total was 1,200.00 dollars plus 249.00 shipping for a total of 1,449.00 dollars.
Tuesday, July 13th 2010: I received email confirmation that my payment had been received. On Friday July 23rd, I emailed the vendor inquiring about delivery notification. He replied the same day that he had broken his foot and he would call me with the freight information on Tuesday July 27th.
Saturday, July 31st 2010: I received an email telling me Paul Castelbuono (the vendor) had some health issues and wouldn't be in the office until Tuesday August 3rd, and I was provided with his cell phone number. After a week, I gave him a call.
Tuesday, August 10th 2010: I called Paul's cell phone at 2:56 p.m. and was informed that his voicemail was full. Then I called the World of Motorworks business phone at 4:46 p.m. and left a message to call me back.
Tuesday, August 10th 2010: Paul called me at 8:01 p.m. and explained he was having some serious health issues (in the hospital due to complications with his type one diabetes and almost lost the sight in his one remaining eye) and agreed to ship the Buick rear end as soon as possible.
Tuesday, September 14th 2010: I again placed a phone call to Paul's cell phone at 4:29 p.m. and once again, I was rewarded with the voicemail is full message.
Tuesday, September 14th 2010: 4:47pm 630-264-8070 Logan asked how he could help. I asked for an update. He promised to call back with information, but naturally, he did not.
Tuesday, September 14th 2010: Having had enough, I emailed Paul requesting a refund. He replied at 11:32pm that he was sorry and he'd call me the next day, the 15th. He did not call me back.
Thursday, September 16th 2010: I again placed a phone call to Paul's cell phone at 2:40 p.m. and once again, I was rewarded with the voicemail is full message. I tried once again at 6:53 p.m. and got the same automated message.
Friday, September 17th 2010: With no other recourse, I called PayPal customer service at 6:00 p.m. and was quickly connected with a dispute specialist named Patrick. Naturally, the first words out of his mouth were that a dispute could not be filed because it was past their 30 day window of opportunity to file a dispute. He did say however, that since it was a significant amount of money he would start an investigation and email me the results.
Saturday, September 18th 2010: Received email confirmation at 6:05pm from PayPal regarding my INR (Item Not Received) dispute concerning this transaction. Other than this acknowledgement I never heard from them again.
Monday, September 20th 2010: I once again called the World of Motorworks main number at 12:00 p.m. Logan answered and (for the umpteenth time) asked him to check on my shipment, gave him description and eBay auction number. Said he would check and call me back.
Tuesday, September 21st 2010: Logan called me around 1:30 p.m. to explain that the rear end was in rural PA and they could not get any freight company to pick up the unit. He said he and the owner were going themselves on October 7th to pick up the rear end and that it would be shipped on October 27th.
Okay... let's pause a minute here to reflect on the paragraph above. Now these guys are telling me the item is something that they expected to be getting in? NOT AN ITEM THEY HAD IN THEIR POSSESSION? Meanwhile, through all the phone calls and emails, these guys continued to host auctions for the same damned item that they have not (to this day) ever sent to me! Yeah, I've been boned good on this one.
Friday, October 29th 2010: I once again called the World of Motorworks main number and asked for another update. I mentioned when the rear end had been scheduled to be picked up and when it was supposed to have been shipped. He asked if I spoke with Logan and I said that I had. He said Logan was out of the shop but should be back in 45 minutes or so and he'd have Logan call me back.
Tuesday, November 2nd 2010: I was stunned to receive a phone call around 3:23 p.m. from Paul, explaining how (you've got to love their flair for the dramatic) Logan was out sick with tonsillitis and that the rear end that went out this morning was the one headed for me. Paul said he would text Logan to get the specifics and that he would (drum roll please) call me back. Clearly these guys missed their calling, they should be out in Hollywood writing television scripts.
Thursday, November 4th 2010: I again called the World of Motorworks main number at 5:15 p.m. and asked for another update. Paul said he was waiting for confirmation from shipping company whether pickup would be today or tomorrow. He said as soon as he had confirmation he would contact me with a tracking number and shipping information.
Monday, November 8th 2010: I again called the World of Motorworks main number at 3:30 p.m. and asked for yet another update. Logan said Paul would not be in until the afternoon and would call me back. Gave my cell phone number told him he could call me any time. Clearly each one of these guys (not wanting to deal with me because... hey what can I do to them) repeatedly tries to palm me off on the other in hopes I'll go away. Actually... I'll be doing anything but.
Tuesday, November 9th 2010: I again called the World of Motorworks main number at 4:34 p.m. and asked for yet another update. Logan said he remembered me from the day before and that he'd given Paul all the messages he'd taken. Said he would not be in today because he was in court. (Now there's a surprise!) Said Paul would be returning the calls on Wednesday.
So there you have it. How I got screwed out of a much-needed component for my Monte SS project. At the time of this writing (November 17, 2010) this has dragged on for 5 months with no resolution in sight. Staggering away from the proverbial ton of bricks... I now know I'll never see my $1,449 ever again and have nothing to show for it. Castelbuono and Co. did a real good job of stringing me along until my window of opportunity for a refund had expired. My advice... do not be as naive as I was, file an INR report after 7 days! I'll keep this page updated as things spool out.
"Hey Paul... how's this for free publicity? We having fun yet?"
Here's a shot of the original ad this scam-artist used to lure me in and steal my money. As you can see there's nothing here to raise a red flag to the unsuspecting buyer. He had a 97.3% positive feedback rating, not bad considering most sellers have one or two unhappy buyers. He'd also been a member since 2004, so he had a been around for awhile. Looks pretty legit, doesn't it?
And here (much to my continuing regret) proof of the payment I sent. As you can see, like every other honest buyer on the 'net, I paid up promptly. In time, I also discovered a federal e-trade fraud site to report this guy to for what it's worth.
So, I'm out the purchase price of 1,200.00 bucks PLUS the shipping of 249.00, for a grand total of $1,449.00! OUCH!
I posted this on the monte carlo ss web site where I am a member. A fellow member did a Google Earth search of the address this swindler gave me. Needless to say, an empty commercial building was as little comfort as it was a surprise.
Several members of my Monte SS club have suggested going out there and "collecting" in person. Sounds like a real good idea for some frontier justice. Just one or two small flaws with that plan. First of all, he changes addresses like I change my socks. Like in the Blues Brothers where Elwood "falsified" his license renewal and listed Wrigley Field as his address. I also wouldn't put it past this goon to pull a gun on me if I showed up out there.
Below is one of the first email threads between myself and these pirates. Nothing really stands out as a red flag at this point. However, this was still early in the ballgame. As the innings dragged on, so did the various excuses, only a few of which were documented via email.
In September (as documented below) I made my initial request to Paul Castelbuono to refund my money. By this point I was really starting to get worried. Once again though, EBay encourages you and the seller to work things out between yourselves. Once they get their pound of flesh for pimping the deal, they're in a big hurry to wash their hands of any issues.
By the 18th of September it became painfully obvious that I had lost my hard-earned money and had nothing tangible to show for it. That being the case, I launched a dispute. Even though I was past the time limit I received the following reply. Check out the recommendations under number 2. Caveat emptor is in full effect.
Patrick had stated that even though I was past the 30 day "window of opportunity" to file a INR (item not received) report he would look into things due to the amount involved. The only other reply can be seen below. Methinks he was more worried about how he had handled the situation than the any actual action he took. Other than this, I never heard from Patrick ever again. I never took his crummy survey either.
I also contacted the BBB in Kane County Illinois for information on how to go after this scuz ball and get my money. Although helpful in tone, it offered no great hope that any refund of any sort would be forthcoming.
Never one to give up easily, I did indeed contact an attorney out in Illinois. You can read for yourself her recommendations as well as her rates. The one reason most people give up pursuing someone who has stiffed them is the expense involved in retaining an attorney to file official paperwork. Oh, one last tiny little thing... you actually have to press charges in the court that has jurisdiction over the person you're accusing. Take off work (risking your job in a shaky economy) burn up gas to drive out there, rent a hotel room. We'll re-visit this little technicality shortly.
Being a "working Joe," I decided to kick things up a notch by writing a letter to the Illinois State Attorney General. After all, I'd obviously become the victim of a nefarious scheme to separate me from my money. This therefore, should be right up their alley so to speak and it was my duty as an honest law-abiding citizen to file a fraud report with them. I figured I'd let "the system" turn up the heat on this cretin. It certainly seemed the more frugal way to go.
Of course there's no guarantee this will do anything, but it is just the opening shot. As the letter illustrates, there's no deadline or anything else to compel this person to actually do anything, so we'll see. Evidently these guys are "slipperier than a greased pig." Never one to give up easily, I discovered that these dirt bags changed their address from what was earlier listed on their website. So I called Delores Rodman to give her the updated information to which she rather tersely replied "we closed that case in January". So I pressed her on the issue and she told me to email her the information but that this would be the last time they would look into it. Thanks a lot Delores, you're a real charmer!
Well, I quickly learned that contacting the state attorney general's office was a complete waste of time. As discussed over the phone, I sent my updated information to Delores Rodman's office, but after talking with her, got the distinct impression she just wanted to get me off the phone. My guess is they have bigger fish to fry, or simply lack the manpower to track this guy down. Either that or maybe, just maybe... they just don't give a flip.
"UPDATE - UPDATE - UPDATE"
Okay, so after all the above I have pretty much resigned myself to the notion that I'd learned a very expensive lesson in e-commerce. I chalked this up to experience and have been exceedingly cautious in my dealings with Fleece-Bay ever since. If I absolutely, positively can't get an item anywhere else, then I use them. Otherwise I order my parts and supplies from other sources. Sources which DO NOT hold an electronic transfer of funds for 3-5 days. Hello! Electronic transfer = instant! Don't you just love banks?
Where was I? Oh yeah, so my car project is trundling along at its own unhurried pace and I'd pretty much forgotten about this whole nasty affair, while leaving my dealings with this scum-bag posted for all the world to see. Then, in October of 2011, my email account lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree. The proprietor of a Buick Specialities site had seen my site and was eager to get it touch with me. Curious, I replied.
So... I got in touch with Highway Stars LTD out in Illinois. They had seen my website and wanted to know if I'd seen the story about their lawsuit. I hadn't of course, since I don't live out there but quickly fired up my laptop and hopped on the 'net. Well, lo and behold this businessman had gotten tangled up with (BUM BUM BUM...) PAUL CASTELBUONO - WORLD OF MOTORWORKS! Oh no... Oh yes!
The Sun Times had the following report:
Highway Stars had blocked Paul from bidding on their auctions. Paul (in yet another example of his stellar character), used another account (probably his girlfriend's) turbochick129 to bid on the items anyway. Whatever you do, don't buy ANYTHING from eBay vendor known as "carguyjr" selling Buick parts. His other aliases on eBay are: "pauljr129" "paul castlebuono" "paul castle" & his "worldofmotorworks.com" website!
Paul did not like getting caught doing this (not to mention being turned in to EBay) and posted nasty, misleading feedback for Highway Stars. Highway stars issued a "dirtbag" alert in the on-line Buick community. Paul Castlebuono decided to sue Highway Stars for defamation of (REALLY?) character. Highway Stars counter-sued Castelbuono.
While The Beacon News filed a similar story (same author):
One of our founding fathers once said "the pen is mightier than the sword." Until speaking with Glen, I had no idea that when you Google this dirt bag's name my site comes up! Holy poetic justice Batman! Not that this has brought this cretin any closer to justice, but in letting the world know about WORLD OF MOTORWORKS and the Thief-in-Chief Paul Castelbuono I feel I have done my good deed for car enthusiasts across the globe.
By the time I'd gotten in touch with Glen, I discovered this little gem sitting in my inbox:
Mr. Castelbuono lies faster than a horse can trot. First of all my facts are the truth and casts him in a completely and totally accurate light. Evidently he told his schmuck of a lawyer he'd credited my American Express account. One small problem with that... I have never in my entire life had an account with American Express! Oh...remember the "have to press charges in the court of the person you're accusing" technicality?. Guess what. That works both ways!
Upon reading my site, Paul discovered I'd purchased another rear end (from a guy off Craig's list) and Paul probably told his attorney "see, I delivered the rear end, if he doesn't want it tell him to send it back and I'll refund his money." Mr. Richard L. Williams failed to realize several things; one of which happens to be that in order to be covered by Paypal Protection, any item shipped with a declared value over $250.00 must be signed for. Of course, you can't sign for what never arrives. He should also avail himself of grammar check software before publishing professional documents.
For those less versed in legal terms, Libel (written, printed or filmed matter which can be seen) or Slander (any defamation that is spoken and heard) are collectively referred to as defamation. Proof that the material was defamatory, requires that the plaintiff must show that at least one other person who saw or heard it understood it as having a defamatory meaning.
There are four basic defenses to libel or slander: truth, consent, accident, and privilege. The fact that the allegedly defamatory communication is essentially true is usually an absolute defense; the defendant need not verify every detail of the communication, as long as its substance can be established.
|The saga continues...|
Through several conversations with Highway Stars, it seems that finally someone has gathered enough evidence to potentially corral this pirate. I recall having read once that the wheels of justice grind along at their own pace. I have recently learned (3/6/12) that the proceedings have reached a plateau. If this guy's track record is any indication, I'd bet dollars to doughnuts he's busy shifting funds so he can play the poor card. Manta dot com now lists his worth at 120k, a vast reduction from previously listed assets.
Not long after this, I found an unusual letter sitting in my mailbox. Further proof of how truly un-hinged this guy is. Looks like something I might've done... back when I was 11 years old! This alone speaks volumes about the character and maturity level of this individual.
Click the icon below to see more!
According the the postmark (dated February 9, 2012), this was mailed from Carol Stream Illinois, a community close to where this dirt ball lives. Hey moron, did you really think no return address would grant you anonymity? Was this some sort of threat... I know where you live? Or, perhaps a challenge... Here I am come and get me? Probably the latter I think. That's okay though, I've known exactly where this joker lives for quite some time, and now you dear reader, know the same.
You know what Paul... you're absolutely right... sharing is good. Therefore dear reader, allow me to share with you the much more detailed PDF document link below:
Read - about all the business dealings.
Marvel - at the hutzpah.
Learn - new vocabulary used to reference customers.
Go ahead... click the icon... you know you want to.
You've just got to love Mr. Castlebuono's professional demeanor when dealing with customers. "you lying p***k next time im [sic] in Texas ill [sic] look you up maybe your old lady needs some real d**k." That professional quote comes directly from page 77 of the legal brief. Having the world wide web made aware of your true feelings by someone you screwed over... Priceless!
In August of 2012, I received the following email from a person (a friend and vendor at car shows according to the email) who Paul had played financial roulette with. This guy also has a website selling Buick parts and ran afoul of Paul at the 2011 GS Nats. For the uninitiated, the Buick GS moniker was the high performance variant of different Buick models over the years including the Riviera, Century and Skylark to name a few.
Finally, in March of 2013, the long arm of the law finally reached out to embrace Mr. Castelbuono, handing down an indictment for unlawful use of a credit/debit card.