Is John Steal still alive and operating a business as JPS Motorsports?

As of April, 2018, our car contract was breached 7months ago. No car, no proof of any progress, and Mr. Steal owes us a whole lot of money we took from our retirement savings.  He refuses to answers emails, allow us onto his property or supply us with his lawyer's contact info. Lots to share about this business but can't speak of everything at this time. Anyone know of Mr. Steal's activities or have had similar circumstances?

Original Post

Delivery is 6 months for a JPS Custom, from the date of the first deposit and signed build agreement.  (Allow extra week for black)

Make sure you spell his name correctly on filing paperwork - John P. Steele.  Ha, the "Steal" was a Freudian slip.  I send a registered letter requesting full refund in 10 days due to contract breech; file complaint with Better Business Bureau (no real clout but often the nudge needed plus visible to other potential buyers); then file a complaint with the California State Attorney General.  Perhaps others are having the same issue?

Maybe Mr. Steal realized the folly in hard work/an honest living and has adopted Mr. L's business model? (you know, where you just continually take deposits from unsuspecting people who are overwhelmed by his slick website and never actually build a car?)

John Steele (had and or has health issues) he moved the business to San Diego some months ago and he has "new management" running the show. From what I understand Steele would purchase  speedster bodies from Kirk one at a time and that source his no longer available to him.  Me, I would go in person to investigate.  I know that a guy from Pennsylvania waited in excess of two years for a coupe to be completed and shipped.

4Banger posted:

Is John Steal still alive and operating a business as JPS Motorsports?

As of April, 2018, our car contract was breached 7months ago. No car, no proof of any progress, and Mr. Steal owes us a whole lot of money we took from our retirement savings.  He refuses to answers emails, allow us onto his property or supply us with his lawyer's contact info. Lots to share about this business but can't speak of everything at this time. Anyone know of Mr. Steal's activities or have had similar circumstances?

I AM IN EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION AS YOU 4BANGER. Exactly.

Contract & first payment on Sept 1st 2017. Second payment Oct 1st (for paint). I have a paper trail.

I haven't seen a tub painted. He did point to a coupe tub and say its mine...

I took a risk, and this is where I stand.

The instagram and FB pages do have a lot of action amazingly. All the pictures I have seen are of the old shop. He has a vid where numerous people are working on cars. ...His shop is usually VERY slim on employees in my various visits.

 

I see three (at least) end games.

Legit move, new management and his business improves. Has anyone contacted the new 'management'?

Bad health forcing his actions as he he is not doing well? I hope not. I appreciate and wish for good health in everybody.

Potential sell out, 'freeing' himself of past/current builds, taking the money and run? That would be the most worrisome for current clients.

Ok senario # 4... 'New management' results in the dissolving of the company. New management needs to make themselves accessible, right?

There has been some 'confusion' in recent months concerning my build. I am not sure what causes the 'confusion'. I too, for the time being need to be reserved and show good intention.

I want the car. I wish well for John. I hope his life is ok. I hope his business is ok. We have had a couple of good conversations with my visits over time. As you can see, my intentions are good. Other clients hope his intentions are good too.

 

Panhandle Bob posted:

You know he moved the operation down to the San Diego area? There is another thread about that here on the site.

The Mr. Steal must have been a spell check thing? Apologies. We never got updates as promised or on time. Last I heard, whatever he had for us (we had nothing but a picture of a painted shell) was for sale and our money was coming. A couple months later, a Suby coupe showed up in Georgia I would swear is the same color as we ordered (a non-metallic grey German color left over from WWII we picked). It didn't have the same VIN as we were given which we learned late in the process was from a salvage donor. Not a good choice for our state and titling. Lots of other surprises I can't mention at this time. Steele made a meager refund transfer but the large portion is being withheld despite promises. He stated we are not welcome on his property and we can't meet with his lawyer due to a "conflict of interest" (???). He has cut off communication although we continue to email him weekly about his debt. If anyone has a new address or contact info. (ours is at the Vanowen St location, N. Hollywood), please provide so we can supply this to our people. I don't do any form of social media so just a post here or a PM would be appreciated. We want to remain professional as we have always done but we can not afford to let this matter fall in the cracks for us or anyone else's sake. Registerd letter has been sent (which John signed for but says he won't open...sheesh). The rest is being pursued now.

MaxMartens posted:
4Banger posted:

Is John Steal still alive and operating a business as JPS Motorsports?

As of April, 2018, our car contract was breached 7months ago. No car, no proof of any progress, and Mr. Steal owes us a whole lot of money we took from our retirement savings.  He refuses to answers emails, allow us onto his property or supply us with his lawyer's contact info. Lots to share about this business but can't speak of everything at this time. Anyone know of Mr. Steal's activities or have had similar circumstances?

I AM IN EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION AS YOU 4BANGER. Exactly.

Contract & first payment on Sept 1st 2017. Second payment Oct 1st (for paint). I have a paper trail.

I haven't seen a tub painted. He did point to a coupe tub and say its mine...

I took a risk, and this is where I stand.

The instagram and FB pages do have a lot of action amazingly. All the pictures I have seen are of the old shop. He has a vid where numerous people are working on cars. ...His shop is usually VERY slim on employees in my various visits.

 

I see three (at least) end games.

Legit move, new management and his business improves. Has anyone contacted the new 'management'?

Bad health forcing his actions as he he is not doing well? I hope not. I appreciate and wish for good health in everybody.

Potential sell out, 'freeing' himself of past/current builds, taking the money and run? That would be the most worrisome for current clients.

Ok senario # 4... 'New management' results in the dissolving of the company. New management needs to make themselves accessible, right?

There has been some 'confusion' in recent months concerning my build. I am not sure what causes the 'confusion'. I too, for the time being need to be reserved and show good intention.

I want the car. I wish well for John. I hope his life is ok. I hope his business is ok. We have had a couple of good conversations with my visits over time. As you can see, my intentions are good. Other clients hope his intentions are good too.

 

There is another scenario available to a few select people...jail time. Some things you can't avoid despite legal maneuverings. I wish I could elaborate. I too wish no one ill-health. All I can say is if someone thinks they feel bad now, just wait. I had some health issues I had to resolve too and my family has definitely suffered through all of this. The car was intended as a very nice birthday present for my dear wife. We allowed extra time as well as accommodated well past the due date. But business is business. I am sorry for your woes. I can't advise you except to say that just because you live a good life and treat others properly, doesn't mean everyone does. Too bad your contract didn't have specific intermediate due dates so you could claim breach when the first one wasn't met. I hope your outcome will be different than mine. So far it seems pretty familiar.  

MusbJim posted:

@4Banger @MaxMartens I find it despicable what you are both going going through with your Speedster build process! 

I don't have any wisdom to offer but hope that you are both able to resolve your situation soon. Hopefully the new 'Manager' of the JPS shop relocated to San Marcos, CA, will provide a response to your queries.

Thanks for yours and all the other supporting replies. We certainly agree that these matters should NOT go unresolved as a matter of both money and principle. Some trains have been running far too long on the same track. This should not just go away in the weeks to follow. The obvious solution is "both barrels".

There is an outstanding community here made up mostly of good people whose primary motivation is based upon an appreciation of some classic Porsche models. And rightly so. We appreciate and expect equally fine work that matches those cars. That is our focus and we have no time or tolerance for the rest.

I hope to post a lengthy but very important guide for those seeking to build a custom car when time permits. It will deal with matters such as salvage titles, insurance, JDM vs. domestic motors, Federal regulations, contract-specific recommendation and many other matters I have learned about. I can only hope it will be read and followed.

In the meantime, it is my hope that all potential owners will take a very realistic approach to a fairly complicated process and try not to wear rose-colored glasses thinking bad things only happen to bad people.  

550 Phil posted:

4Banger. Very sorry for your troubles.  I have a very short guide for building a replica.

Use:

Intermeccanica

Vintage Motorcars

Beck

Good and bad manufacturers are well documented on this site.

WHAT PHIL SAID!

It greatly saddens me to see enthusiasts, with their hard earned dollars, get their face SMACKED...literally, with such CHAOS and fraud. Its somewhat analogous to a miscarriage as the "baby" is gone and sometimes the where-with-all($$$$) also gone to enable another venture.

I have been to JPS during communication and sparse communication.

Soon, I will see with my own eyes the state of JPS operations. There will be cars & equipment at one or the other location. 
If each location is vacant or liquidated, that will be my time to go to the next step.

This requires, at least initially, 'boots on the ground' to see what is going on at the shop location(s).

Has anyone checked each location? Are buildings open? Or locked up. Take a pic of each location. That is boots on the ground verification. I haven't seen, or heard of anyone checking locations yet.

I will not put out threats of any kind. I will put out results, which ever way they go. I am just now approaching 8 months on the build - I expected the build to fall behind, so....

...Time to drop by. 

Roy Simpson, FF Plastic Porsche posted:

4Banger, how many times have you visited JPS?

Did you see progress?

Did you visit soon after you could not get in touch, the first time?

To answer, I saw some progress at the beginning while I was making my scheduled deposits. I saw a raw body and one after paint. I never saw a completed chassis pic although I was assured they were working on it every day. I saw a motor pic but it wasn't what we ordered. Later that proved worse than we expected. Can't comment further on that. I grew more concerned and insistent when it was apparent the car could not be completed on time. But I had to wait until after the due date. Due to the complexity of such a project, we allowed more time but became insistent on regular updates. Weekly updates were promised and never rec'd. Last we saw was a non-metallic grey roller (saw such a color in Atlanta?) with no interior, no drivetrain, etc. We then learned of a title issue and more procrastination. We set a deadline of EOY 2017 for a refund. JPS said a buyer had been found and money was coming. A meager partial was rec'd  but the majority (a significant sum) was withheld.  Before communication was cut off, we got disturbing emails about prior Porsche lawsuit supposedly won by JPS, how he looked forward to a legal battle and much more.  I am 1/2 across US. I am, so far,  out a large sum of money and can not enter JPS property per JPS. So a trip is likely just something to add to the debt. Money better spent in other ways. My wife was nearly in tears over this tonight. I don't like anyone hurting my wife. This matter will not go away.

4BANGER: I hate to hear it but this happens way too often....I'm ill just from reading your story. Its happened to me but only on a much smaller scale(under 10K loss)

I know a guy....who knows a guy...who knows another guy....his name is LOUIE THE RAT! He knows a guy named ARTURO the "ASSASSIN"....he owns a concrete mixing company and most of his pours are reinforced with organic additives(LOL).

There has gotta be a collective way to gather up the other JPS injured folks and do something to enable some justice/performance.

All I can add is that somehow I have retained “friendship” status on Facebook with John and see an occasional post. Just yesterday he responded to one of my FB posts regarding the YouTube shooting.

I have also seen posts where he has discussed his health, one mentioning he was declared dead but resuscitated. I guess it all revolves around his heart. He may have had a couple of hospital stays in there somewhere.

Then I have seen posts where he has married and feels somgood about that. 

So what does this all say to me? That he might have cheated death and that he doesn’t let his business bother his personal life. Customers? I think he could care less, he’s just grateful to be alive.

That’s all I got.

You know, I have previously posted more than once (when this same discussion with Mr. L....g has come up) that somebody that's being taken for a ride should invest in a Lousville Slugger and go visit the gentleman in question, but so many of you (in the land where it seems everybody takes the law into his own hands) keep on telling me that it isn't the way. Are you telling me that the movie/documentary about the guy in the small town with the baseball bat isn't true? (gasp!) I'll bet it would get results, and you could even rent/sell it to the next guy who needs it

So.

Let's hypothetically assume that there was a guy (say, in SoCal) who always had a sketchy reputation, but who was always able to grift by on bluster and chutzpah. Let's say he always ran a shoestring operation, but liked to pass himself off as a legitimate builder, and that he was able to continue to present himself in this light for 20+ years.

A hypothetical charlatan like that might have health problems, a divorce, and some money issues. None of these problems would keep a guy like that from making promises he had no idea how he could to keep.

A guy like that would always sort've believe his own lies, but he wouldn't have the ability to "beat" Porsche (part of one of the largest corporations in the world) at anything. Deep down, he would know that. I would think it's important that the hypothetical guys he would've lied to would know that as well. I'd be stunned if a guy like that would even have enough money to hire an attorney. He would count on those jilted customers not pursuing justice... because he would know that they would know the cost involved. It's all hypothetical, but a guy like that would count on a mark cutting their losses.

A good grifter (and a guy like this would have to be really good at it) is generally able to ride this line for years, until he loses his edge and picks the wrong mark. He'd be able to win the battle of wills by holding people hostage-- knowing that 999 people in 1000 will take less than they deserve, if he convinces them that the alternative is getting nothing. Guys like that don't get sued, because they know that a suit will likely cost more than anything anybody could recover.

But often at the end of his life, a guy like that will end up overplaying his hand. One day, a guy like that picks the wrong fight, and somebody calls his bluff. Doing so would take an actual legal fight-- and while the guy would talk tough, he would have nothing on his side except mutually assured destruction. He would believe that the desire to get a car or some money would trump the desire for justice. He would likely have nothing to lose personally, as he's probably already cheated death and would likely have lived hand to mouth for years. Con-men never plan for the future with sound investments, they just grift from one mark to the next. A guy like that would likely have to use 5 different cards to purchase a hotel room, and have all of them declined (not that I ever witnessed this personally in 2002). The operation would always have been on a shoestring.

Maybe someday, somebody would get to be mad enough or would be rich enough to call the bluff. Maybe that OP is that guy. But most of the marks would be too emotionally drained and embarrassed to take the fight to him.

Either way, it'd be good if somebody knew what they were up against. 

Shoddy business practices have been discussed on this site for at least the 20 years I've been on here.  Everyone has an opinion, and it's always difficult to determine who is serious, who is venting, and who is clearly kidding.

Vigilante justice is only good advice if you wouldn't mind being incarcerated yourself.  There is no quicker way to exchange your status as victim to that of perpetrator.  Want to make a bad situation worse?  Easy, commit assault and battery on the con man, and now he's the victim.

Lawyers always cost money in these situations, as no qualified attorney would take a case like this on a contingency basis, since a lucrative award that could be split with an attorney is unlikely.  The victim may be awarded restitution in a negotiated settlement, but a sizable damages award in very unlikely.  See below.

Since the business is in California, the county District Attorney would be the law enforcement person to contact.   Each state handles civil/criminal complaints differently, and, in California, you don't contact the Attorney General, which is a state office.  You contact the county DA in one of Cailfornia's 58 counties

Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will have an online website that likely has consumer complaint forms the public can download, complete, and forward to the DA's Office.  Victims photocopy all relevant documents, emails, and any other writings that support their position.  The Consumer Fraud attorneys have the option of filing a civil or criminal complaint, but usually file civilly, since the victim is more concerned with money damages than jail time for the perpetrator.  In addition, the elements of criminal fraud are more difficult to prove than unlawful business practices.

All of us who have been wronged at one time or another may fantasize about revenge, but there really is no easy way to get satisfaction.  Crooks know this and use it to their advantage.  That's how they stay in business for such a long time.  Whatever route you choose, don't put yourself in legal jeopardy just to get revenge.  We ARE the good guys, and we've worked too long and hard to throw it away. 

I'd like to give Stan's post ten likes. Steve Lawing doesn't deserve to be in this conversation at all. He is an abject bag of scum. How he is still above ground I'll never know.

I've never been a fan of John Steal(oops I spelled it wrong). IMHO he's Steve Lawing lite. I personally saw the questionable quality of his build(s) in person, and all the fixes that were required to get it road safe. There were more required if it were mine, but it wasn't.

I hope you two(4banger and Max) get some answers and/or some money.

Phil is right on the 3 choices though. That's where I'd buy new.

David Stroud posted:
calmotion posted:

Crazy to hear this things. Hopefully SAS and  JPS  figures out soon enough to take care of their customers. 

With all due respect....calmotion.....you are dreaming about SAS. I don't know much about JPS but I'm so surprised that no one has paid them a visit. Throw a bunch of money at someone, get nothing in return other than empty promises and no communication and you don't have the motivation to pay them a visit ? 

Not in the same league as this problem for sure but years ago I sent money to a motorcycle shop in Chicago for some BSA parts and the owner became lethargic in sending me the goods. I got frustrated and called the cops. Literally. One took the complaint, passed me on to a Detective and sure as hell he followed thru the next day and paid them a visit. The goods got shipped while the Detective stood there and supervised the process. 

People yak about rumours from social media outlets, others recommend going straight to a Lawyer etc., others have recommended filing a complaint with the Attorney General I think I remember. Texas isn't far from Cali. Maybe get off your butt and go over there and see what's up for yourself ?  At least you'll have the satisfaction of knowing for yourself what is real and where to start. A personal visit will provide a basis to take some real action. Did he rob you ? Call the cops ...better yet visit with them ( the cops ) and get some advice / action ?  Is this wire fraud ? 

It truly sucks to hear of someone sending money and getting nothing back. I feel badly for that. If it were me, I couldn't sleep at night and would have paid him a visit long ago. 

 

Glad you got your parts. Maybe I have been "off my butt" for a very long time now. Maybe I have already seen "what's up". Maybe there is much you do not know. But thanks for the advice. Again, mess with me...not good. Mess with my wife...you have my full attention. A simple bank transfer tomorrow might ease my mind some.

It is possible there are some extenuating circumstances .... this is pretty much a one man operation and just perhaps his health and/or the move is a problem and is causing delays. 

You should be very careful if you threaten someone, you might turn a problem that can be resolved into a criminal matter with you as the criminal. Not Prudent.

John is a eccentric sort of person but I found him to be honest and dependable... if remote.

He delivered my car exactly as ordered and at the cost agreed too....albeit a couple months later than I expected....the explanation was that his paint shop had moved.  

I love the car, it is much better than I expected , trouble free after 12,000 miles...and I am 100% pleased with it.

All is well.... that ends well....... and I hope that is what happens.....and that is what happened for me....bart

 

 

No one has threatened anyone that I can see. That is pointless and non productive. I will not stoop. And someone's health or marital status is not a business matter. We had a contract that did not include your car. But glad you are happy with your dealings. Perhaps you can start a thread about it.

Jim Kelly posted:

Shoddy business practices have been discussed on this site for at least the 20 years I've been on here.  Everyone has an opinion, and it's always difficult to determine who is serious, who is venting, and who is clearly kidding.

Vigilante justice is only good advice if you wouldn't mind being incarcerated yourself.  There is no quicker way to exchange your status as victim to that of perpetrator.  Want to make a bad situation worse?  Easy, commit assault and battery on the con man, and now he's the victim.

Lawyers always cost money in these situations, as no qualified attorney would take a case like this on a contingency basis, since a lucrative award that could be split with an attorney is unlikely.  The victim may be awarded restitution in a negotiated settlement, but a sizable damages award in very unlikely.  See below.

Since the business is in California, the county District Attorney would be the law enforcement person to contact.   Each state handles civil/criminal complaints differently, and, in California, you don't contact the Attorney General, which is a state office.  You contact the county DA in one of Cailfornia's 58 counties

Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will have an online website that likely has consumer complaint forms the public can download, complete, and forward to the DA's Office.  Victims photocopy all relevant documents, emails, and any other writings that support their position.  The Consumer Fraud attorneys have the option of filing a civil or criminal complaint, but usually file civilly, since the victim is more concerned with money damages than jail time for the perpetrator.  In addition, the elements of criminal fraud are more difficult to prove than unlawful business practices.

All of us who have been wronged at one time or another may fantasize about revenge, but there really is no easy way to get satisfaction.  Crooks know this and use it to their advantage.  That's how they stay in business for such a long time.  Whatever route you choose, don't put yourself in legal jeopardy just to get revenge.  We ARE the good guys, and we've worked too long and hard to throw it away. 

As always, Jim's legal advice is solid. Everyone involved in these shoddy business deals should sue but no one wants to because of the financial hardship of suing. It costs money to sue and you'll likely only get pennies on the dollar if you win.

However, you may be able to pay an attorney to look over your documents and such and have him/her write a letter on their letterhead to JPS and demand a completion date or a full refund of monies owed. 

Your squawking in his ear may mean nothing, but an official request from an attorney may move him along faster. 

Chris Kleber, KitMan Motors posted:

For those that are interested:     this is public information on website

I just checked the City of San Marcos, CA website  business license division

JPS Classics LLC is listed with  an ACTIVE business license in San Marcos

License BL18-029631  that was issued on 3/12/2018 for 1 year.

Owner is listed as Patrick Crane , Co owner is listed as John Steele

So if Patrick Crane is co-owner why doesn't he come on this forum and enlighten us?

BTW I live 18 minutes from their shop. Have not been there. just going by address posted here.

michel posted:
Chris Kleber, KitMan Motors posted:

For those that are interested:     this is public information on website

I just checked the City of San Marcos, CA website  business license division

JPS Classics LLC is listed with  an ACTIVE business license in San Marcos

License BL18-029631  that was issued on 3/12/2018 for 1 year.

Owner is listed as Patrick Crane , Co owner is listed as John Steele

So if Patrick Crane is co-owner why doesn't he come on this forum and enlighten us?

BTW I live 18 minutes from their shop. Have not been there. just going by address posted here.

Thanks Michel. I didn't know you lived in San Diego since there's no information on your profile. Let us know what's happening.

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