Eye on Scams: odometer fraud

used-cars

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: http://www.ag.state.la.us/Article.aspx?articleID=37&catID=0 .

Original Article: http://klfy.com/2015/05/11/eye-on-scams-used-cars/

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

MyFoxAL.com - 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

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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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Lebanon Car Dealer Indicted For Fraudulent Titles, Falsified Mileage On Dozens Of Vehicles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Lebanon, Mo., automobile dealer has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a mail fraud scheme in which he sold dozens of vehicles with fraudulent titles that greatly underreported the actual mileage of the vehicles.

Kenneth W. Smith, 60, of Lebanon, was charged in a seven-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Aug. 26, 2014. That indictment has been unsealed and made public upon Smith’s arrest and initial court appearance.

Smith operates Cars Unlimited in Lebanon. According to today’s indictment, Smith obtained fraudulent replacement titles for dozens of vehicles that were sold by Cars Unlimited between February 2010 and Nov. 7, 2011. Smith (operating through Cars Unlimited) allegedly applied for and received 54 replacement titles from the state of Missouri, each of which underreported the vehicle’s actual mileage between 95,000 and 209,000 miles. Smith allegedly resold these 54 vehicles at auto auctions using the fraudulent replacement titles. These 54 vehicles were sold for an aggregate total of approximately $346,450.

Beginning in February 2010, when Smith purchased vehicles (through Cars Unlimited) at auto auctions, the vehicle titles he received showed each vehicle's actual mileage. After purchasing a vehicle, Smith allegedly submitted an "Application for Missouri Title and License" seeking a replacement title for the vehicle. Although he sought a replacement title, the indictment says, he in fact possessed the original title for the vehicle.

In each of those instances, Smith allegedly forged the signatures of the previous owner of the vehicle. The state of Missouri prepared a replacement title that was mailed to Smith at Cars Unlimited.

The federal indictment charges Smith with seven counts of mail fraud.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan. It was investigated by the FBI and the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Patrick Wayne Davis booked in Knox County on odometer fraud and identity theft charges

Patrick Wayne Davis

Patrick Wayne Davis

CHATTANOOGA, TN -- Following an investigation by the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Patrick Wayne Davis was arrested for odometer fraud, identity theft, and felony theft on Tuesday, March 11 in Knoxville. Davis allegedly altered the odometer of a 2004 Honda Accord over 120,000 miles. He then fraudulently advertised the vehicle on “Craigslist “as a low mileage vehicle and subsequently sold it at a much higher price.

This case stemmed from a complaint taken by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office in Cleveland, Tenn. Bradley County then requested the assistance of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

THP Sergeant Thomas Clower, working with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, was able to identify Davis as a suspect in their initial investigation. They discovered that Davis illegally acted as the original owner of the Honda by taking the name of a man from Michigan. Agents with the Highway Patrol’s CID also located physical evidence in the Honda Accord.

On Thursday, March 13, Sergeant Clower and THP Interdiction Plus Sergeant Greg Roberts located Mr. Davis in Knoxville. Davis was arrested on odometer fraud, theft between $1,000 to $10,000 and identity theft. He was booked in the Knox County Jail. A court date will be set for the Knox County Criminal Court.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure that our state is a safe, secure place in which to live, work and travel; enforce the law with integrity; and provide customer-focused services professionally and efficiently.

Original Article: http://www.knoxvilledailysun.com/news/2014/march/patrick-wayne-davis-arrested.html