Reports continue to arrive from people who paid for a motorcycle months ago and are still waiting for the bike, the kit or a refund. The possible fraud is now in the hands of Big Bear Sheriff’s Station detectives.
Big Bear Choppers on Fox Farm Road in Big Bear Lake closed its doors in November. A sign on the door said the business would re-open after Thanksgiving, but that never happened. In early November, the owners, Kevin and Mona Alsop, appeared on a TV show “The Mentor” on the Bloomberg channel. After the show aired, calls, emails and more started pouring in.
Reports arrived that the couple took deposits and full payments for myriad choppers that were never built. On the TV show, the couple was shown making calls to customers explaining their financial straights and asking for additional time, promising to fulfill orders. According to those who paid deposits, those promises weren’t kept.
The Big Bear Choppers segment of “The Mentor” no longer appears on the reruns of the show.
Detective Lonnie Siebert of the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station says the department is consulting with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office regarding the case. Criminal charges against the Alsops may be possible, Siebert says.
Chris Lee of the District Attorney’s office says the special prosecutors are aware of the situation involving Big Bear Choppers, but his office is not investigating at this time. The District Attorney’s office has been contacted by several of the potential victims, Lee said. The case remains with the Sheriff’s Department, but could be investigated by his office at some point, Lee says.
Lee encourages any possible victims to file a report with the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station as a first step. He says he understands the frustration potential victims are feeling, but the report is the first step.
Potential victims include members of the military deployed in Afghanistan, military members recently discharged, wounded veterans, dealers, retirees and residents in Canada, Russia and all across the United States.
Jim Kreizinger of Indio ordered his bike days before Big Bear Choppers closed its doors in November. He wasn’t told the company was suffering financially when he paid his $10,000 deposit on Nov. 14. When he contacted the Alsops’ attorney, he was told the firm would be filing bankruptcy in January. He just wants his deposit back, Kreizinger says.
A soldier stationed in Germany paid in full for a Bare Bones model in April, his second Big Bear Chopper. SFC James T. Crawford paid $21,000 and was promised a bike in a few weeks. He was notified by Mike Forbes of the Big Bear Lake plant a few weeks later he owed $7,000 more, although the bike the soldier purchased was advertised on Big Bear Choppers website at $21,500, ready to ride. Crawford won the argument and didn’t pay more.
The bike was to be built by a dealer in Oregon. Crawford was notified by Forbes that the bike was being built in Big Bear and would be ready in August, then by the end of October, then in December or January, although the business closed in November. Crawford never received his bike, nor his money back.
John Kerr of Hawaii ordered a bike in August 2010, putting a deposit down in September 2010. He paid the balance shortly thereafter with the promise that the bike would be complete sooner. Kerr received a partial kit almost a year later. Kerr, who contacted the local District Attorney’s office, says he feels lucky to have gotten what is about 80 percent of his bike kit.
Kerr says he doesn’t feel Forbes was complicit in the alleged fraud. Kerr says Forbes kept trying to help him get the missing parts. At the end, Forbes admitted Big Bear Choppers was in serious financial trouble, Kerr says.
Anyone who paid money to Big Bear Choppers for a bike, either through the Big Bear Lake factory or outside dealer, but didn’t get the bike or kit, should contact the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station to file a report. Lee said the District Attorney’s office is trying to see just how big and widespread this case is.
Contact the Sheriff’s Station at 909-866-0100.
Contact reporter Judi Bowers at 909-866-3456, ext. 137 or by e-mail at email@example.com.