Man Allegedly Bilked Investors Out of $1 Million By Telling Them How Awesome His Trailer Hitches Were

Categories: Crime

KarlPratt.jpg
YouTube user Meancon64
Be wary when this guys starts talking about trailer hitches.
One evening during the summer of 1994, Karl Pratt was wrapping up a day at Lake Lewisville. It had been a satisfying outing but, as he backed his truck to the water's edge to pick up his boat, he realized his trailer had been stolen. Someone had cut the lock and taken off with it. It took him a week of haggling with the insurance company, $1,500 out of pocket, and two months of waiting before he could replace the trailer.

That's was Pratt's aha moment. What if he invented a device that protected one's trailer from being stolen while simultaneously guaranteeing that it won't slip off while traveling 70 down the freeway. Which is exactly what Pratt said he did. He established Safety Sentry, Inc. in 2009 and began selling the product. You can even watch him pitch it to the Granbury Chamber of Commerce.

To the 50 or so investors who wound up giving him more than $1 million, he said a lot of things. The product was patented, and the company was in talks with U-Haul and Ryder and very close to inking major deals. He sent an email notifying them that "the Hertz deal is done."

None of that ever happened, at least according to a wire fraud indictment filed yesterday in federal court. Pratt's patent applications were twice denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. And Hertz had never heard of the guy, according to an affidavit filed earlier by an FBI agent.

Even before the feds became involved, investors had grown suspicious. Robert Yonke and his company, filed an arbitration claim against Safety Sentry after Pratt failed to deliver on his promises. After Pratt failed to pay the agreed settlement, Yonke sued, claiming that not only was Pratt a con artist, he was caught on a wiretap attempting to hire a hit man to settle their dispute.

That plan fell through, and Pratt has bigger problems. He was arrested in January and has been in jail ever since, a U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cureton having determined that Pratt was a flight risk, not to mention a potential danger to the community.

Don't let that stop you from visiting the Safety Sentry website to check out the patented merchandise. But keep your credit card in your wallet. The site tells us the online store is currently closed for maintenance.


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13 comments
dusterrm1
dusterrm1

This man used this family and all the others to make money for himself...and nobody in Government cared and we had to get the FBI involved...

A MAN IN LOUISIANA HAD AND HAS INVENTED A BETTER SAFETY DEVICE AND YOUR GOVERNMENT HAS ALMOST DESTROYED HIM...CALL JIM MILLIAZO...AT

225-978-2991

 

 

...First Name : angel Last Name : Redacted Address Street 1 : Redacted Address Street 2 : City : ventura Zip Code : State : CA Daytime Phone : Redacted Evening Phone : Redacted Email : REdacted.... Comments : my niece just recently passed away because of trailer hitting the car my sister was driving , she was only 6 , our lives have been devasted over our loss , iam so angry at the man who caused this accident , i want to know how i can help so this dosent happen again , i also want to know how to make new laws for this, i want a law called eminas law , how can i do this for our family and so this tragedy dosent happen to anyone else loved ones , i want to be very educated on this , i want new laws passed and i also again i state i want a law called eminas law, i want this not to happen to anyone else , i hope this makes since , thank you for your time , and being with us through all of this , thank you for your support

dusterrm1
dusterrm1

This man almost destroyed our cause......www.dangroustrailers.org and we were the ones who put the FBI onto this case....he has helped people loose thier lives because he lied to everybody we gave the reporter all the info..!!!!!

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

Damn, I finally get a good joke in and it disappears

Joejoethedogfaceboy
Joejoethedogfaceboy

Unfairparked!

 

"Bandwidth Limit ExceededThe server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later."

Don O.
Don O.

I thought that was Dale Hansen.  

RTGolden
RTGolden

I'm not sure the AUSA was basing the fraud claims on the denial of patents, but on the failure to disclose such to potential investors.  There's also the alleged use of investors' money for personal purchases, claims of working out contracts with various national level corporations, and the 'selling' of 'master distributorships' or franchises, none of which materialized. There's also the matter of the death threats alleged in the former investor's lawsuit.

Montemalone
Montemalone

 Must've been a 12 pack outing on the water that day, 'stead of the usual 6er.

Jay
Jay

He looks like a Demo to me.

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

The real money is in Truck Nutz anyway.

Guest
Guest

Pratt's patent application is still pending at the USPTO -- the fact that he has received one or more rejections during the process is completely routine -- virtually every patent application gets "rejected" one or more times before it issues as a patent (of course, many never issue at all).  More interesting is that the patent application was abandoned and then revived at some point. The Information doesn't indicate that he told the investors that it was patented, only that he had applied for a patent.  You'd think the investors would do a little due diligence and check the status of the application, as I just did.  I don't know if he was defrauding anyone or not, but it's clear that the AUSA doesn't really know what he's talking about with regard to the patent process.

Paul
Paul

The first clue should have been: "It had been a satisfying outing but, as he backed his truck to the water's edge to pick up his boat, he realized his trailer had been stolen." Last time I tried to back up with a trailer attached, I noticed its presence behind my truck before I even started.  In fact, I noticed the trailer as I walked up to my truck. Just exactly how does someone not notice that their trailer is no longer attached to their truck?

Montemalone
Montemalone

Free enterprise. Probably a Perry backer.

Joejoethedogfaceboy
Joejoethedogfaceboy

Ha!  I should have known there aren't enough UP readers to crash a server.  It's a featured story on Jalopnik...

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