The black Ford F-250 served Mark Oberholtzer well for years, used as a company pickup truck hauling everything from pipes to toilets.
But after it started to break down, he sold it to a Ford dealership in Houston.
Next time he saw it, the truck had cropped up in Syria and had a man in the back manning a machine gun. According to the pictures, the truck was being used by the so-called Muahjireen Briagade, an extremist group fighting against the Syrian government.
The main problem? Oberholtzer’s company logo, Mark-1 Plumbing, and phone number remained on the truck.
After the photo appeared with the number and logo visible, Oberholtzer began receiving nonstop phone calls. Many who called accused him of being a terrorist sympathizer.
“They were supposed to have done it and it looks like they didn’t do it,” Oberholtzer told the Galveston Daily News. “How it ended up in Syria, I’ll never know.”
Oberholtzer has now filed a lawsuit against AutoNation Ford Gulf Freeway, the dealership where he traded in the truck. Oberholtzer says the company promised to remove the decal, and by not doing so have caused himself, his family, and his business “severe harm.”
The harm stemmed from his office, business phone, and personal phone receiving over 1,000 phone calls. “These phone calls were in large part harassing and contained countless threats of violence, property harm, injury and even death,” the lawsuit states.
“They were calling us ‘terrorists’ or ‘traitors,’ [threatening], ‘We’re going to come down there and do this.’ We had numerous death threats,” the 52-year-old told the New York Post.
He was even visited by Homeland Security officials, and the FBI warned him to “protect himself.” He always carries a gun.
A year later, Oberholtzer told Courthouse News, he still gets threatening phone calls “whenever ISIS commits an atrocity that is reported nationally.”
He’s seeking $1 million in damages.
A spokesperson for AutoNation says the company only acted as a pass-through to an auction company, making it that company’s responsibility to clean the vehicle of signs.
The company hasn’t commented since the lawsuit was filed.