Tampa Police are accusing the wife of a used car dealer of stealing more than $50,000 from investors she was scamming. 34-year-old Shanteeka Simmons is facing several charges of fraud and grand theft.
The car lot at Simmons Used Cars on East Hillsborough Avenue is empty. The gate is locked. There is a notice of eviction on the front door. Police say that is the business Simmons was using to lure investors, promising a percentage of sales for some up-front cash. But according to police, those promises of huge returns were as empty as the lot is today.
What those investors may not have known are some major red flags. Simmons, whose maiden name is Bennifield, has been arrested several times in Hillsborough County on multiple fraud charges going back more than a decade. Everything from Insurance fraud, ID fraud and grand theft.
"This is a person who I trusted and I actually loved her." A former business associate, who wished to stay anonymous, said.
That business associate says she has also been on the bad end of a business deal with Simmons. She claims Simmons lied to her, scamming her out of thousands of dollars several years ago.
"she's very charismatic. And she will prey on your heart. She will get into your heart so you fall in love with her and you trust her." She said.
Simmons has also had several various business ventures easily found on Sunbiz.org. All but one have been dissolved.
We went to her home in Wesley Chapel to attempt to speak with her husband, but nobody answered the door.
According to police, the scam started in October of 2015 and continued through April.