Car salesman gets 6+ years for stealing $3M from clients

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A former salesman at a Florida Porsche dealership has been sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for scamming more than 30 customers out of about $3 million by creating fake sales orders for rare cars.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith sentenced Shiraaz Sookralli, 45, in Fort Lauderdale federal court last week, according to records. He pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. He had faced up to 20 years in prison.

Sookralli, who had been a salesman at Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, created a shell corporation with a similar name in 2017, prosecutors said. Sookralli made bogus sales orders for non-existent future exotic Porsche models and took deposits from customers, which he put into the shell company's bank account.

The majority of the vehicles were rare, highly sought-after, Carrera 911 models, investigators said. Sookralli required deposits from his victims that he later deposited into his shell company’s bank account. The buyers relied on Sookralli’s longtime employment at Champion Porsche and the seemingly legitimate bank account that he used. Sookralli spent the money on luxury vehicles, jewelry, nightclubs and restaurants.

Champion Porsche did not authorize Sookralli to conduct these transactions. When the dealership discovered what Sookralli was doing, it contacted his victims and began cooperating with law enforcement.