Just like in skip tracing, pricing for repossession varies greatly depending upon the type of collateral, the complexity of the repo, the tools needed or in some cases the intelligence needed to handle repossessions the right way avoiding breach of peace and illegal repossessions. For the sake of this article since cars are more common in the business and most people going to do repossessions go in with full intentions of working with cars. [Read more…] about Prices for Repossessions
Car repossessions are the most common, after all just about anyone with any credit can go to a new or used car dealership and drive away with a car. Amazingly around 6 years ago a statistic with one of our clients called Affiliated Financial was quoting that only a figure of around 6% sub-prime cars go out for repossession at all. I thought that number was extremely low and surely with the worsening economy that number must be growing since. Regardless of the percentage they claimed, the amount of repossessions they contracted out was at least 100 cars per month in Florida alone.
So just imagine between all of the finance companies, banks and in house car dealerships, car repossessions equate to allot of jobs each month nationwide.
I remember when first starting out as a repoman, I was hungry, I was depleting my savings from the multi-million dollar business I had previously that the economy at the time wrecked. It was ok as that glory lasted more then a few years and things change. it was time for me to enter a new realm, to learn a new skill set. I was lucky enough to be sponsored by two companies at the same time. [Read more…] about Car Repossessions
Part of being a repoman or being in the repossession business is talking with debtors and also talking with people that may know the debtors whereabouts. When going to repo school or going through repossession training to get licensed there are many things they teach you, however some of the things you will never learn until you actually hit the streets.
Laywers and Repomen things in common
When you graduate law school some of the most important things are notlearned while in law school but learned later while doing the job. One thing in particular is going to trial. Law school usually does not teach someone how to handle themselves in trial. It is just something that as time passes working in the field a lawyer will get more accustomed to it and eventually be good at going to trials.
A repoman learns the laws involved, the terms such as wrongful repossession, how to best do repossessions, the tools, the insurance and so on. However the things that a repoman will never learn in school or training is all of the lies and the excuses that come with this job day in and day out. Surely some of you have heard many of the lies on the cable TV shows, even they got some of those right.
Top excuses and lies heard to get out of a repo
- I just paid it last week or yesterday.
- I spoke to so and so at the bank just this morning and straightened it out.
- It must be a mistake this car is paid in full.
- I filed bankruptcy last week and this car is protected under BK laws.
- I just got back from the war (not even in the military)
- Just give me til tomorrow and I promise I will pay it.
- Here is $50 or 100 to go away for the week and say you didn’t see it.
- The car was crashed and wrecked
- It’s in Mexico(often when repoing in CA, TX or Arizona).
- I need it to get to the hospital in the morning for surgery
The list continues on and on and as a repoman you will hear these day after day and over time it will change you. You will begin to see which ones were going to be tougher to repossess from the lies alone. You will have many families that will lie for each other all the way down the list.
Following is a story of how bad the industry is even with reputable repossession companies. It is unfortunate that so many companies decide to try an extort others because they know they can get away with it.
We received this case from some celebrity rapper thug.I say thug, because of their actions when we finally find them.
Why so many celebrities get repossessions
This goes to show you, whether these guys are famous or not, making good money or not, they seem to piss it away faster then it comes in. In my career I have had more famous cases then I ever imagined. Ranging from pro sports to celebrities.
I personally decide to work the case which turned out to be much tougher than I thought. The case was in Los Angeles, California. I worked it inside out and backwards, I checked the recording studio that they usually recorded in, in fact two of them. I checked the three known addresses I was showing. I checked possible girlfriends and I continued on for several weeks. I got much deeper into the skip trace and was getting close but still not there. It was one of those skips that can get into a month worth of work.
How much this bank pays for a celebrity repossession
I was fine with it because there were 2 cars involved and each one was paying us over $10,000, less our expenses. Normally that would mean less any additional small costs in the investigation usually in the $175 to 200.00 range and then later less the actual repossession which in Los Angeles a company with proper insurance will normally charge between $350.00 and $550.00 each car. After the 30 days it takes to find them, we would end up with $20,000 less $1,400.00 is $18,600.00 which is not bad for the months work.
In this case I had no keys, so we needed to hire a company that had trucks and two at the same time. I figured OK I would go the higher route to make sure I didn’t lose one of the cars for some amateur hour crap.
Keep in mind, I did not assign this case out at all and will not until I am sure exactly where the cars are. I do not want any help from the repossession company in the skip trace or even give them a chance to say they skipped. I didn’t follow my own rule on this one thinking they were super professional and did not get a form signed saying there was no skip tracing involved.
Finally finding the thugs and the cars
I finally broke ground and located a brand new address that I had not found previously. That was it, I knew it was them and they would be there. I found the guys I wanted to do the repossession. They emailed the insurance, I saw the trucks on the website so I knew they could simultaneously do the two high dollar cars.
I explained to the guy exactly how it had to go. That I skip traced it for a while that it was imperative to not lose either car, otherwise it would be gone. He quoted me $375.00 each car and I said I want him to pay extra attention and that I would pay $500.00 per car and that it would include 1 week of storage. Although many repossession companies work well with other repossession companies, sort of like a brotherhood, some are extortionists and you just can’t help it. On one hand you can’t blame them as they are used to over billing banks with additional fees on every bill. So over billing is part of the repossession.
That evening I go to the restaurant with my wife. While eating I see they are calling and I had to answer. I answer and they say we are here in front and the cars are here. I said great! The one guy stays on the phone with me as the repossession is in progress. They begin hooking up both cars and 3 guys come out with 2 pistols. he told me that and I told him to get in the car and call the Police. One of the drivers as soon as he sees the one pistol he acted as if he called the Police but really did not. The thugs saw that he dialed the police, argued for a minute and went back inside.
They are gone with both cars and I am still on the phone with this guy. It was the least he could do for the extra $300.00 I was paying him for the job. I was pleased it was over, it was like a big weight dropping off as I sat in the restaurant with my family.
The repossession extortion begins
I tell the guy to send me out the bill right away and we will have the cars picked up prior to the free week ended that I told him. He said don’t worry about it, i will give you 3 weeks if you need it.
Next morning comes, I find the bill in the fax machine. It is for $2,500 per car. I wait till they open in a couple hours and call this extortionist. His answer was they pulled guns on us.
I said they pulled guns so you raise the bill 5 fold? He said well there was allot involved and then we risked our lives. I said you risk your life on every repossession, it is part of the game.
I said no, we had a deal and it is $500.00 per car and I have no problem paying that.
Repossession guy calling my client direct
The extortionist calls direct to my client. In my opinion that is the low scum of the lowest, these idiots calling your hard earned banks. Luckily my bank is loyal enough to call me right back and advise me.
It reminds of the loser that tries to hit on your girlfriend or wife behind your back.
My bank says they claim they did some skip trace, there were guns involved and so on. I told my client don’t fall for that crap. They said, it’s OK we negotiated it down to $1,300 each car and we will overnight them a check for that. I was pissed as that $1,300 each came out of my hard earned fee. From that moment on, it changed my perspective on how to work with other brotherhood repossessions.
While I have thousands of cases that I remember at least hundreds of those really vividly stick clearly in the memory. One thing about doing repossession with Skip Tracing is the fact that you will probably never forget the case in a lifetime. I’m not talking about running an IRB search and getting some possible addresses, I am talking about actually doing an investigation in order to complete the repossession.
The repossession will become forever embedded in your memory soon after you start a deep chase on the debtors trail. You will have learned everything about this person or people. By the time they are found, you feel that you already know them for a long time.
In this work you will have repossession companies that will say they do skip as well for an extra $100 or $200. What they are talking about is a real minor investigation including running a short comp and getting a few other possibles, maybe including a door knock. If its a large bank, believe me they have already done the preliminaries. Banks use the same software investigation companies use plus they call the crap out of the debtor which I explained in a previous article that this will do nothing but advise the debtor people are actively looking for him.
The last thing they want to do is get a bill for an extra thousand on a real car investigation. For us that is what we did so each and every case has already been out for a month or two, has been worked by the bank and a repossession company. Once they have no more luck, the case would come to us and we would effectively clean it up.
I begin the search for this taxi company and start doing all the preliminary things that I would do when first starting a case. This wouldn’t be my first complete taxi company, and they are tougher because usually you need to get every taxi cab at the same time, if you don’t you can kiss the others goodbye for a while as they will become real deeply hidden, most likely with drivers. This was a foreigner that had been in the United States for around 2 two years. As I needed to organize an entire crew to grab all the cabs at once, I decided to make contact with this guy, that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal since the bank was calling him daily anyways. Also it was one of the rare occasions to have a local case so I knew even if I called him and he hid them, I would still find all of the taxis.
I call him and he answers his cell phone. I introduced myself and explained why I was calling. I asked him where he was currently living and he told me F-You and hung up. I thought OK, let me do some further research before getting a local team together. I begin to locate some older associates and find one in particular that I knew was more then just a friend or associate. I called her and she was thrilled to tell me where he lived currently. She further explained what garbage this guy was from North Africa and that he promised her everything but after the second pregnancy in 2 years of knowing her, he walked out, left her with two kids alone.
She continued to tell me stories about this guy and the more I heard the more I couldn’t wait for the evening to come around to grab these taxis. These were not yellow cabs, these were all mini vans and there were 7 of them. I happily write down the good address for this guy. I organize a team and take several of them in my car and the rest in another car. We drive into this apartment complex and way deep in the back were all of these mini vans sitting right there. The light was on in his 3rd floor apartment. Two of the guys get out and check VIN numbers and we are good.
We had keys for all of them in hand. We pull away and park towards the front of the complex, we move and as we get closer some of them had the alarm buttons on the keys which you push and the lights blink. It was obvious which ones were ours, we just wanted to make sure as there may have been more without loans already paid.
As they all left, I was in the last one and I saw him looking out the 3rd floor window with the light brightly on.
Not that intense but always remembered. Lesson learned for this North African to perhaps stop screwing over American women so much.
After in the business for a while you will start to build these vivid memories of repossessions that you have completed or were involved in. I have so many vivid memories which many I will try to share with you in this repossession blog.
We had been performing skip trace on this medium sized yacht. We finally located the yacht however when we sent the spotter over, he told us the only way to get to it was through the canal actually swimming across from one side to the other. Luckily there was access on the opposite side.
Personally I am a good swimmer and really don’t mind too much swimming in a canal once in a while. This job for strange reasons had to be done after midnight, the yacht had a form of security on it that had to be bypassed. We decided to do the repossession at around 2am.
Pitch Black Water in the Middle of the Night
While it was a few years back, I remember specifically the chill in the water that night. It was two of us and we had some back sacks on and began the swim across. The water was pitch black and the sky wasn’t that clear either. There was a strong silence around us and you could feel the adrenaline pumping. At around the halfway mark, I hear a slight noise in the water. I had no idea what it was. Some quick thoughts came to mind first being a Manatee.
Is it a Shark?
I asked my partner if he heard it also and he said no. We continued swimming without making noise. Suddenly I feel this rather strong nudge on my right side and I panic a little, thinking holy shit, it’s a shark. I felt the skin and as I panic more my partner says he saw it and it appears to be a dolphin. At this point I have a slight pain in right ribs but it didn’t matter, when the adrenaline pumps, nothing can stop you. We continue on, well we really never stopped. We see next to us is actually not one but two dolphins swimming close by.
Kind of freaky swimming with dolphins at 2am in a pitch black canal. we finally get to the yacht and we both board. We verify the hull number, we disable the security, find the keys, untie it and we are gone. It was one of those experiences that lingers in your mind for years to come. No real danger, just a surprising thing that turned out to be dolphins.
Who needs Discovery Cove when we have canals everywhere in Florida..
One time while I was not doing car repossessions any more. One of the banks gave me a call and asked me to do them a favor. I asked what is it? They said it was a car, I asked why? They said this guy cursed them out every time they called about the car. They couldn’t find the car and the guy was hiding it. They said they wanted the car no matter what the condition or value. I saw at this point, he pissed off the wrong person at the bank. In fact I am willing to go out on a limb and say, had he been decent with them on the phone, perhaps said he was struggling they probably would have gave up the car and just put him in collections for the balance.
They told me don’t worry we will make it worth you’r while. They said it is an 95 BMW M3. They said we will give you title plus a grand for your expenses. I quickly agreed, they faxed the particulars and I bought a one way ticket to New York. It was fine since I am from NY originally and I have family there to stay with. As soon as I got the order, I ran a comp and did some preliminary investigation work, I printed everything out and planned on staying in NY for around 4 or 5 days.
>I arrived in NY, it was late afternoon, I rented a car and went to the 3 immediate locations that I had for him with no car showing.
I drove to his work and waited near his second car that he owned. As soon as he showed up, I told him. Listen, I just flew in for the BMW and I am not leaving without it so do me a favor and let me know where it is. He was nervous and believe it or not said OK as long as he could take his stereo out that he recently put in. I agree’d. I followed him to the car and the repossession was under way. It was that easy, I couldn’t believe it.
The car had big chrome wheels, not fat but tall. The paint was scratched up, especially on the hood. Everything worked well and it started right up. I was driving this car back to Florida so aside from the big chrome wheels it drove well, but surely the handling was bad due to the rims. I drove over to my families house to stay for the weekend and drive home on Monday. I parked my new ride in front and the first thing they asked was about the chrome rims. At first they nice choice on rims trying to be nice. I then told them the story and they laughed.
I had already contacted the police department in NY, you have to call it in prior to or go to the nearest precinct in some parts of Long Island as well.
I called the bank and asked them to send me the title as soon as they could. Upon arriving in Florida, first thing I did was find some real M3 wheels and changed out those chrome wheels.
In the repo game we all have experiences that we remember throughout our career and in many cases throughout our lives. Personally I have had a tremendous amount of both domestic and international cases that will sit clearly in my head for the rest of my life. The funny thing as I have mentioned before is none of my repossession cases aside from those of the buy here pay here lots in the very beginning of my career were local.
Almost everything I did was out of state or in other countries. In many cases a trail through several states would be a better way to put it. This particular case was given to us by several banks at the same time. They all got together and decided to send my company the cases all stemming from the same guy. Although we didn’t do auto repos at the time, we still did major skip on fraud cases and that is what this seemed to be. It was nice because it got my foot through the door with 2 banks I had not previously worked with.
There were aprox 12 cars involved in this assignment so our first priority was to find the debtor, find the guy that actually signed on these vehicles. Instead of finding him we found the first victim. The first victim was a home owner that for a little extra income decided to rent out one of the rooms to his house. He rented a room to our guy and a little over a four month period passes. Our guy had not returned for about a week, did not call and did not pay. He walked into the room and was shocked to find several things, most apparent was a bunch of candles and other objects typically used in Voodoo type ceremonies. As he further searched through this emptied room, he found some envelopes that had his name on them, they were credit card offer envelopes and other mail that this fraud tenant had stolen.
The chase continues
He immediately ran his credit report and sure enough, there were several credit checks he did not authorize from mortgage companies to auto finance. He called those companies and sure enough, he had bought several cars and a home. He was devastated and little did he know it was far from over. It really is tough cleaning up your credit after actions such as these.
While there we were able to find the name he used to sign the lease and we contacted that person in another state. They proceeded to say they found the strangest voodoo candles in the room as the guy never came home. I asked if he had checked his credit recently and he did not. I advised him that I felt he should go check his credit. Turns out he too had a house, and several cars. We contacted the banks and they also had these listed, however they were already charged off, which they gave us the vehicle accounts and we do not get involved with the mortgages. Later the mortgage fraud teams from the banks were seeking help.
At this point we knew this unknown voodoo guy would be using his last victims identification to rent another room. Sure enough we found him in the very next state again. We were running about 1 to 2 months behind and we needed to catch up. The good news was as we continued to get to the next house, we kept adding more repossessions to the mix, some were too new to be put into repo status, but at least the banks were aware. There was millions of dollars in mortgage fraud involved and more good news was we began to locate some of the vehicles. They were all strawed out. The guy would rent or lease these vehicles to people and he would come by a certain time to pick up his cash, or somehow get the cash to him.
The cars were his biggest mistake as he profited peanuts as opposed to the mortgage fraud which homes were listed in the comps for half a million and really only worth 300. You knew this guy and his mortgage buddies were walking away with hundreds of thousands per house. Not only that, but it was the car deals that did him him and allowed us to find him eventually.
This next state was even more freaky as the room he rented was close to a what is known as a Voodoo field and an area that is known for people to conduct ceremonies. The agent we sent over there, prior to going knew right away and said that field is the voodoo field.
As we closed in, we began getting more calls from previous states on the straw purchases. People would call and tip us off as to where the vehicles were, thinking back, I truly believe it was him himself helping us with the cars as he realized it was a mistake. Perhaps he figured if he gave up all the cars, we would be done and he would only have to worry about the mortgage fraud people who were far too busy to really focus as we did.
To conclude this story, we ended up making contact with him directly at a home, he decided to live in under his alias, we repossessed the car he had in the garage and knew it was him. Although, our repo job was complete and case was closed.