‘No-Reserve’ IH Scout Seller Knows the Top Bidder but Bring a Trailer Won’t Pull the Auction

The auction site says it's spoken with both parties, who own businesses within walking distance of each other, and the interest is supposedly legit.
Rear three-quarter view of a purple 1974 IH Scout that is being auctioned on Bring a Trailer, with screenshotted portions of the listing superimposed indicating that the buyer and current top bidder know each other.

Bring a Trailer

The plot has thickened once again with Bring a Trailer’s controversial 1974 IH Scout listing that’s been making news all week.

The classic 4×4 in question was previously posted on Clasiq, another online marketplace, with no reserve. After the auction closed on May 28 with a winning bid of $12,000, Clasiq nullified the sale and claimed a technical error prevented it from setting a $32,500 minimum. Not long after, the Scout showed up on Bring a Trailer—again with no reserve—and we highlighted that in a story on Monday. The seller blamed his friend for posting the truck elsewhere without his knowledge, and Bring a Trailer has been directly involved in the discourse. Now, the auction site is acknowledging the pre-existing relationship between the seller and the top bidder, who made a new account and drove up the price by nearly $7,000 with one click.

It didn’t take long for Bring a Trailer users to identify the red flags. Their first clue came when the auction’s top bid jumped from $12,750 to $19,000 courtesy of @jamesdhaas. People immediately noticed that the profile was created in June 2024, and what’s more, they had no prior bidding history. The username also follows a seemingly identical format to the seller’s, @tomwstein. All this was enough to spark some independent investigation.

Readers took it upon themselves to look into it and contact me with their findings, which I’ll get to in a minute. Bring a Trailer was presumably clued in as well, because the company’s co-founder Randy Nonnenberg posted a comment on Wednesday evening addressing the seller and bidder’s ties.

“After extensive research by our team, we have found the extent of connections between the high bidder and the seller,” Nonnenberg said. “They know one another, and when asked, the seller has freely admitted that connection and states that the high bidder has a legitimate interest in the Scout and will follow through with his bidding. If he had denied their connection or admitted/implied that the bid would not be followed through on, this listing would be withdrawn and bad actors restricted.”

Nonnenberg went on to say that Bring a Trailer will donate the buyer’s fee to any non-political, non-religious charity chosen by Chris Picconi, winner of the Clasiq auction who has been vocal throughout the process. If Picconi decides to bid on the Scout again and wins the Bring a Trailer auction, the site will waive the 5% buyer fee and still donate it to a charity of his choosing. And finally, if the seller declines to accept the highest bid—no matter who places it—they’ll be banned from Bring a Trailer.

Nonnenberg says Thomas Stein, the seller, confirmed his relationship with James Haas, the bidder, when asked directly about their connections. It apparently wasn’t until then, however, that Stein admitted knowing Haas as he never mentioned it himself in the comments. Bring a Trailer also made contact with Haas, for what it’s worth, further supporting its decision to keep the auction going.

Now for the part explaining how Stein and Haas know each other.

Stein owns a restaurant in Huntington, New York, named Tommy Tacos. He mentioned the business by name in a comment on this same Scout’s previous Bring a Trailer listing from April 2022. Tommy Tacos’ Google reviews show multiple five-star ratings, including one from Haas.

Additionally, Haas is named by local news outlets like Huntington Now as the owner of iStretchPlus—a wellness facility that’s located within walking distance from Tommy Tacos. There are other examples of their relationship online, including at least one social media post, but you get the picture.

It’s clear that these two have known each other at least for the past several months. Regardless of that, Stein insists it’s all above board and that he will honor the highest bid. It hasn’t gone up in more than 24 hours at this point, and there are three days left on the auction.

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