Fraud is never a good thing, but this type of fraud usually targets individuals who are willing to give their life savings for the opportunity for their own business. People see the food truck industry growth and want to get involved with little or no experience. Unfortunately, there are predators out there that are willing to take advantage of this situation.

CHICAGO, IL – Investors in a failed national food truck franchise business that started in Iowa say they lost thousands of dollars and now have little or no recourse against the owner through courts or authorities.

“We’re not going to get anything, we know that,” said Celeste Siebke, of Jacksonville, Fla. “We just want (the owner) in jail.”

The owner of Tailgater Toby admits that he owes some investors large sums of money under signed legal agreements and a court order. But Earl “Ken” Wright says the business he started in Chariton in 2008 collapsed after a failed venture in New Orleans and after investors attacked him on the online consumer watchdog site Ripoff Report.

“I couldn’t do anything else because of what happened on social media,” Wright said.

Siebke contacted the Reader’s Watchdog after identifying several other Tailgater Toby investors across the country who said they lost big money after investing with Wright. She says she and her husband, Jeff, obtained a court judgment last year in Florida against Wright and Tailgater Toby, requiring him to pay them more than $31,000.

She says she wrote to Ripoff Report, the FBI and Florida’s consumer services department after realizing Wright was broke and the investors were unlikely to get paid.

Wright offered investors the opportunity to buy custom mobile trailers and prepackaged food — pulled pork, brisket, barbecue sauces, etc. — and then sell that food in different franchise territories.

Siebke says she and her husband were enticed by the concept, like other investors, at one of the trade shows where Wright sold trailers and licenses. Siebke says she and her husband decided to buy a mobile trailer from Wright to sell food in territories licensed to another couple they met at the trade show.

She says they had a contract with a money-back provision, allowing her to rescind the deal. But when the deal with the other couple didn’t work out, Wright would not return their money for more than a year, she said.

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