The $21 Million “Miracle Cars”
God Wants You to Roll
Nineteen-year-old security guards Robert Gomez and James Nichols played Americans’ love for cars against their faith in God in one of the greatest frauds in U.S. history. They worked in security together at a local office complex and dreamed of finding the fast track out of their poor L.A. County neighbourhood.
The “Miracle Cars” scam begun in 1994. The boys conned thousands of customers from Los Angeles to New York-mostly devout churchgoers-into buying bargain-priced cars from the estate of Gomez’s deceased millionaire father. The cars cost just a few thousand dollars apiece-Dad’s dying gift to his fellow Bible believers.
Yet, there was no dead millionaire father. There were no cars. And there is still no trace of $8.7 million of the $21 million stolen by the now-convicted Gomez and Nichols.
Armed with a list of cars and evangelical charisma, Buddha and James offered a fictional slice of the good life as a reward for piety, and the pious blindly bought in. They kept the con alive for over four years, cast it nationwide through a network of pastors who sold cars during church services, and briefly realized their dreams until the Feds brought them down. While converting millions of dollars into gambling chips, Buddha became a legend of the California casinos, sitting at poker tables with pornographer Larry Flynt.