Trans Am Lawsuits
'Build-A-Bandit' victim George Payne drove more than eleven hours from Jacksonville, Florida to make sure he was on time for his small claims court case in Asheville Thursday morning. Payne is going after Bob McElreath and his girlfriend Erica Kampert for allegedly bilking more than one hundred victims out of $2.2 million dollars. While McElreath remains a fugitive from Buncombe County with 28 active felony warrants for his arrest, his alleged girlfriend and business partner does have a known address in Fairview where she was served papers in the small claims court case against her.
"The majority of the money taken in was funneled through her bank account," said Payne. Payne and victim Carol Thompson who drove five hours from Georgia, both have financial records, emails and bank checks with Kampert's name clearly listed, indicating her involvement.
For years, McElreath posted photos of 1978 restored Trans Ams like the one driven by Burt Reynolds in the movie 'Smokey and the Bandit" on Ebay to lure customers in. Customers sent the couple about $15,000 for each car they thought they were buying. Carol Thompson has kept a large file listing information on the one hundred victims she said got taken for thousands by McElreath and Kampert. While the maximum suit in small claims court is $5,000, Thompson is suing Kampert for $15,000 citing her two sons as part of the damages claim. Payne and Thompson's cases are set back-to-back in Buncombe County’s small claims court downtown.
"I'm hoping Erica will show up, all of the money has gone through her account," said Thompson. She will only have satisfaction when one thing happens.
"When they're in jail. I don't think we'll ever get our money back but when they're in jail and stop doing this to other people that's when I'll be at peace."
By Kimberly King
Follow Kim on Twitter @KimKingReports