Lutz man arrested for selling cars with altered odometers

LUTZ, Fla. - One Lutz man thought he was getting a deal on a used car, but he nearly got taken for a ride.

Deputies said a self-proclaimed car dealer was selling people vehicles with altered odometers.

According to the sign out front, Carmona Service Corporation will do body and mechanic work on your car.  But on Wednesday, 64-year-old Pedro Carmona was arrested and charged with 11 counts, including tampering with the odometers on four vehicles.

Just last week, Mahesh Modha said he saw an ad on Craigslist for a Toyota Corolla LE with 31,000 miles for less than $10,000.

“We were ready to pay cash also, but it turned out we were scammed," Modha said.

Modha said Pedro Carbona and his nephew Gio met him to sell the car. Modha paid $1,000, got a receipt and promised to pay the rest.

"They were claiming to be a dealer actually, you know Gio said my uncle is a dealer, so I said I normally trust dealer because dealer had a license," Modha said.

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8 from St. Louis area sentenced for vehicle title fraud ring

ST. LOUIS • Eight St. Louis-area men and women have been sentenced for their involvement in a ring that altered vehicle documents to obtain loans, prosecutors said Thursday.

The ring altered documents to remove lienholders before selling the vehicles or to obtain new loans, prosecutors said. They also reduced the value of the vehicles on documents or changed the state of residence of owners to dodge taxes and license fees, they said.

Federal, state and local investigators were able to document $311,000 in losses due to the scheme, but estimate that the true loss amount approached $1 million.

The eight defendants received prison terms ranging from probation to more than 11 years in prison.

The final defendant in the case, Justin Carter, 22, of St. Louis, was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison. The leader, Randall Hinton, 33, of St. Louis was sentenced Aug. 11 to 11 years, four months in prison, prosecutors said.

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Eye on Scams: odometer fraud


Almost everyone has shopped for a used car and buying a used vehicle is always a big deal for most consumers. Savvy buyers spend days or weeks searching for the right vehicle at the right price to fit their needs.

When shopping for a used vehicle and during the buying process, a major consideration is the mileage on the pre-owned vehicle. Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana offers advice to help consumers ensure they are not taken by odometer fraud.

BBB alerts consumers that one in 10 American vehicles has a tampered or “rolled back” odometer, according to the Consumer Federation of America. According to Car Fax, a BBB Accredited Business, odometer fraud is one of the oldest automotive scams and the introduction of digital odometers has done nothing to halt it.

BBB offers the following tips to help consumers detect odometer fraud when purchasing a used vehicle:

  • Always check with BBB first.
  • Compare the mileage
  • Inspect the vehicle
  • Hire an expert to inspect

If you realize that you have bought a car with a rolled back odometer, report it to the Louisiana Office of the Attorney General at: .

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Couple accused of running a chop shop

David Bernando Cruz

David Bernando Cruz

Joselyn Cruz

Joselyn Cruz

TAVARES — A two-county investigation has shut down an Astatula chop shop whose operators are accused of dealing in stolen cars from three states, authorities said.

David Bernando Cruz, 30, and his wife, Joselyn Cruz, 31, were charged with operating a chop shop. David Cruz has been released from the Lake County Jail after posting a $50,000 bond. Joselyn Cruz was jailed in Osceola County on the same bail.

Lake County detectives began investigating the two after receiving information from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office regarding the couple having a large amount of vehicles to sell and looking for a place to get rid of them.

The couple allegedly stole vehicles throughout Florida, as well as in Alabama and Georgia, with a tow truck they owned. They reportedly rolled back the mileage and covered up any damage to the vehicles.

It also was alleged that David Cruz would get vehicles from owners who couldn’t make their car payments under an agreement that he would assume the payments. He then allegedly hid those vehicles from repossession companies until he could obtain fraudulent titles on the vehicles and resell them.

Lake County sheriff’s detectives eventually learned of a warehouse at 14200 Corkwood Lane in Astatula,where the couple had allegedly been hiding vehicles.

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Former Car Dealer Gets Shock Incarceration for Altering Odometers

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Springfield car dealer was sentenced Wednesday for rolling back the mileage on cars he sold.

Ashley Bolton, who owned Excel Auto Group, must serve 30 days in shock-incarceration at the Greene County Jail, along with five years of supervised probation. This shock-incarceration comes as part of a suspended sentence of four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

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Thieves copying VIN from cars to re-use on stolen cars - FOX6 WBRC Birmingham, AL

ATLANTA (CBS46) - Metro Atlanta police are keeping an eye out for a rising trend among car thieves called cloning.

David Renaud, with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said the problem started surfacing about five years ago.

"They're stealing a car, and then they will clone the VIN. In other words... remanufacture the dash VIN, the labels on the car and everything," Renaud said.

The VIN, or vehicle identification number, is basically a fingerprint for your car. Renaud said that thieves can copy your VIN, and if they had a stolen car that was a similar make and model to yours, they could then use your VIN to clone the stolen car.

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Thirteen Area People Indicted On Fraud Charges Involving Motor Vehicle Titles


November 17, 2014

St. Louis, MO – RANDALL HINTON was indicted in August on multiple fraud charges involving his scheme to alter and counterfeit documents in order to obtain state issued motor vehicle titles for himself and others.  Last week, twelve additional individuals were indicted in two separate indictments for their part in the use of the altered and counterfeited documents to obtain motor vehicle titles and motor vehicle title loans.

According to the indictments, the schemes involving the defendants resulted in financial losses to the State of Missouri, financial institutions, title loan companies and individuals.  As the documents were often altered to decrease the value of the vehicles or to change the state of residence of the vehicle owners to addresses in Illinois, the owners of the vehicles were able to evade paying the appropriate taxes and license fees to the Department of Revenue for the State of Missouri.  When Hinton removed the names of financial institutions which had financed the purchases of the vehicles from legitimate titles, Hinton, Arronda Williams and others were able to sell the vehicles to innocent purchasers who were then unable to register the vehicles due to existing liens.  The final aspect of the scheme enabled individuals to use the altered documents to obtain motor vehicle title loans from companies located throughout the United States.  As a result of existing liens or the fact that the value of the vehicles was less than the defendants represented, the title loan companies experienced large financial losses.

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Odometer Fraud Case May Lead to Stiffer Penalties for Some Offenders

An NBC 5 Consumer Investigation on odometer fraud prompts one division of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to recommend consumer-friendly changes to state law governing salvage dealers.

These changes would protect consumers by giving the state tougher tools of enforcement against would-be violators.

This potential change stems from a case against a DFW-area salvage dealer which wound up in small claims court then in the hands of the DMV.

It started last year when Kristin and Ferron Young turned to Craig’s List when they needed a car on a tight budget.

"We needed something that we felt like would be good for the family,” Kristin Young, mother of a kindergartener and a newborn, said.

They found an ad for a 2000 Honda Accord, which described the car as very clean with 101,000 miles.  After seeing the car, they bought it for $3,200.

“We ended up choosing the one that we bought because it had lower mileage,” said Young.
The seller, salvage dealer Michael Eke, also had assurances. He said the car had been cared for and had only been in a little crash. But on the drive home they said they noticed problems immediately.

The next day, the Youngs bought a CARFAX report, which revealed at the car’s last state inspection it had 160,000 miles.

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