Car dealer who fraudulently sold cars damaged in Hurricane Sandy gets 3 years in prison

Christopher Baxter | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Jonathan Olin, 42, of Manalapan, was sentenced to three years in prison today for orchestrating the creation of false vehicle titles in order to sell cars damaged during Hurricane Sandy, state authorities said. (Courtesy of N.J. Attorney General’s Office)

TRENTON — A Middlesex County car dealer who used fraudulent vehicle titles to sell cars damaged during Hurricane Sandy was sentenced today to three years in state prison, state authorities said.

Jonathan Olin, 42, of Manalapan, for former operator of D&D Auto Sales in Old Bridge, admitted in August that he obtained fraudulent “clean” titles for eight vehicles, seven of which were sold to unsuspecting customers by Pinky N Brain Corp., doing business as D&D.

One of his associates, Jessie Dinome, 30, of Jackson, a former employee at the Freehold Motor Vehicle Agency, accessed state computers to create the false titles, the state Attorney General’s Office said. Dinome was sentenced to probation in October.

The seven vehicles were sold for a total of about $86,000, authorities said. Olin pleaded guilty to theft by deception and was ordered to pay full restitution to the victims. A third person, Jacob Douek, 40, of Staten Island, N.Y., still faces charges in the scheme.

The case was referred to the Attorney General’s Office by the state Motor Vehicle Commission after receiving information from the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program and ABC News, which investigated how flooded vehicles ended up on car lots.

Original Article: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2014/12/car_dealer_who_fraudulently_sold_cars

Feds Charge Pair with Sales of 247 Mileage Tampered Cars

300px-Jeep_OdometerAccording to Federal prosecutors, from as early as 2004 and through at least 2010, Kyle Novitsky, 45, and Judith Aloe, 52, both of North Miami Beach, FL, purchased high-mileage, used motor vehicles in Florida, California and elsewhere from a national vehicle leasing company.  Thereafter, Novitsky and Aloe allegedly altered the motor vehicle titles and sales documentation associated with these vehicles to reflect lower mileage, and, relying upon such fraudulent certifications, the Commonwealth ofPennsylvania issued motor vehicle titles reflecting the false mileage.

On January 17, 2013, a federal grand jury in Philadelphia unsealed an indictment charging Novitsky abd Aloe with making false odometer statements, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit these offenses. Novitsky and Aloe are charged with selling 247 motor vehicles — some with mileage fraudulently understated by over 100,000 miles — at wholesale automobile auctions in Manheim, PA, and elsewhere, and providing Pennsylvania titles that the defendants knew were issued based upon fraudulent lower mileage.

Note: Charges in an Indictment are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The Department of Justice, Office of Consumer Protection Litigation offers an online resource about Odometer Tampering and also offers this helpful consumer checklist:

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Police: (PA)Nanticoke man altered odometer, title of car he tried to sell

KINGSTON — A Nanticoke man faces multiple charges after he allegedly altered the odometer and title of a car he sold to a Kingston man.

State police at Wyoming say Terry Matthew Panetta, 33, acquired a silver Ford Mustang and the title to the vehicle in September 2013, then disassembled the instrument cluster and altered the odometer by “blacking out” digits with a black marker.

Panetta then altered the vehicle title to indicate that the vehicle had less mileage than the actual mileage recorded, and then offered the car for sale on the Craigslist website, police said.

A 21-year-old man from Kingston responded to the ad, met with Panetta to see the vehicle at a location on Pringle Street in Kingston and arranged to buy the car from Panetta, according to police.

After the vehicle sale, the odometer discrepancy was discovered and the Kingston man, whom police did not identify, contacted state police.

Following an investigation, police on Tuesday charged Panetta with felony counts of forgery, tampering with public records or information, changing an odometer reading and washing a vehicle title, a misdemeanor count of theft by deception/false impression and a summary count of improper transfer of ownership.

Panetta was arraigned before District Judge James Roberts and released on $25,000 unsecured bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 21 before Roberts.

Original Article: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/50452291/

(Calgary) Dozens of victims caught in odometer roll back scam

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A Calgary man is facing charges in connection to a vehicle odometer roll back scam that defrauded more than 50 people.

The Economic Crimes Unit was notified in January by a credit card company that a number of skimmed cards were being used for fraudulent purchases in Calgary.

Police say the cards were being used to service vehicles and purchase vehicle parts and that the vehicles being serviced, were purchased at an auction house.

Investigators say that the vehicles had high kilometres but they had been rolled back between purchase from the auction house and attempting to sell them online.

“Investigation by the constables revealed that the offender was purchasing vehicles from the auction house at which time he would take those vehicles and have small repairs doe to them, maybe tune ups etc., change some parts out and take them to auto repair facilities where we believe that the odometers were rolled back. He would then list those vehicles on kijiji, Craig’s List, and the Auto Trader for sale and individuals would then come into negotiation with him to purchase those vehicles,” said S/Sgt. Kristie Verheul from the Economic Crimes Unit.

They say that in one case, approximately 208,000 kilometres were rolled back.

The suspect in the case purchased 54 vehicles over three years.

Andriy Plysiun, 28, of Calgary, faces one count of fraud over $5,000.

Police estimate the value of fraud is $300,000 and say that number is likely to increase as more victims are identified.

Original Article : http://calgary.ctvnews.ca/dozens-of-victims-caught-in-odometer-roll-back-scam-1.2031958#ixzz3Krf3Hg5L

Storm Surge: Beware of Title-Washed Cars

Shopping for a used car in Mississippi? Beware of title washing. The Magnolia State has the highest density of title-washed cars in the country, with 1 in every 44.6 used cars bearing a washed title, a Cars.com analysis has found. That’s well above the national average of 1 in 324.9 used cars. New Jersey, meanwhile, has the second-highest rate: 1 in 87 cars.

Related: How to Know if You’re Buying a Flood-Damaged Car

Why? In a word, hurricanes. Nearly a decade ago, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left 600,000 flood-damaged cars across the Gulf States. And in 2012, Hurricane Sandy reportedly left more than 200,000 storm-damaged cars in New Jersey and New York. Salvage titles, or titles for cars that were retitled after they were written off as total losses by insurance companies, proliferated after all three storms. Title washing also surged, where sellers alter vehicle titles to hide their salvage status and sell the cars as regular used vehicles. To do this, sellers often send those cars through states with looser title laws.

By contrast, used-car shoppers in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania have less to worry about. Just 1 in 2,127 used cars in Ohio has a washed title. Florida (1 in 1,444.9 cars) and Pennsylvania (1 in 1,200.3 cars) round out the podium for low-risk states.

CarFax, a provider of vehicle history reports, estimates that title washing could affect nearly 800,000 cars on U.S. roads. The company has state-by-state totals of title-washed vehicles — any cars (not just flooded ones) whose titles have been altered — which CarFax draws from all registrations issued since 1981. We indexed that data against the total number of registered cars per state, using IHS Automotive data from July 2014. Here’s what we found:

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1 Million Used Cars Are Hiding A Terrible Secret

US-WEATHER-STORM-SANDY-CARS

Just because a used car is cheap and seems OK during a test drive doesn’t mean it’s safe to buy.

Criminals have devised ways to artfully conceal structural damage on used cars, allowing vehicles to be sold for a profit even though they may have been shoddily rebuilt after an accident or submerged in ocean water during a hurricane.

When insurance companies write off a vehicle as a “total loss” after an accident or other event like a flood or hail storm, the law in most states requires the vehicle’s title of ownership to be given a “brand.” That brand permanently marks the car as damaged goods to all potential future owners, but there are ways for it to be washed away. In the old days, it was done with chemicals. Now, photo editing software and digital scanners are used to print new titles. Or, cars can simply be re-registered in different states until the brand falls away.

Because there is no national titling law, incongruous state laws create opportunities for scammers to “title wash” wrecked cars, making them appear undamaged. Not only are consumers being ripped off, but they’re also putting themselves and others in danger when they unknowingly drive a salvaged car on U.S. highways.

The scam appears to happen on a large scale: According to the vehicle history provider CarFax, 800,000 cars in the U.S. — including at least 500 taxis — have been “title washed” to conceal their troubled histories.

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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.

Five men charged for allegedly winding back odometers in used cars

FIVE men accused of winding back the odometers in high-end second-hand cars which they planned to offer for sale have been ordered to appear in court in June.

Serious Crime Task Force officers arrested the men after raids on six Adelaide properties, where 23 cars — including four Mercedes, four BMWs, four Holdens, three Toyotas, a Range Rover and a Volvo — computer equipment, odometer manipulation equipment and cash were seized.

Five firearms and ammunition were also claimed by police in a joint investigation with Consumer and Business Services officers, which began in February.

A 22-year-old man, of Colonel Light Gardens, a Kingswood man, 63, a Prospect, man, 66, a Greenwith man, 66, and a Parafield Gardens man, 65, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud and participating in a criminal organisation.

Police have laid 20 charges but said the inquiry was continuing. Further charges are expected.

The men were granted police bail to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on June 27.

Police say the investigation uncovered odometer tampering offences by licensed and unlicensed used car dealers.

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Effort in Colorado legislature would expand car salvage titles

Under current law, a vehicle more than six model years old that is considered totaled by an insurance company can avoid being labeled a "salvage vehicle," making it easier to resell once fixed. But, House Bill 1299 could change that. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Under current law, a vehicle more than six model years old that is considered totaled by an insurance company can avoid being labeled a “salvage vehicle,” making it easier to resell once fixed. But, House Bill 1299 could change that. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

In addition to washing away homes, roads and bridges, the September floods that blanketed some parts of the state also destroyed sedans, minivans and pickup trucks.

And those refurbished vehicles could easily be sold to consumers unaware of the prior damage because of a loophole in Colorado law that legislators at the Capitol are working to amend.

Under current law, a vehicle more than six model years old that is considered totaled by an insurance company can avoid being labeled a “salvage vehicle,” making it easier to resell once fixed. The “salvage” title means the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds its overall worth. Older vehicles, which are more likely to be deemed salvage, aren’t subject to that classification in Colorado.

House Bill 1299, which the Senate Transportation Committee approved Tuesday night, would repeal the vehicle-age requirement so that the vehicle, no matter how old, would carry the salvage designation after insurers make a “total” payout.

“It’s really a matter of helping to protect the consumers who are buying cars that are damaged. On the surface they look OK, the title is clean, but the car has gone through extensive repairs that will likely not keep it running,” said John Medved, who owns five car dealerships across the state and who backs the proposed measure.

Because of the state’s more lenient salvage laws, flood-damaged cars from areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy have made their way to Colorado for clean titles, say proponents of the measure, which include groups such as the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association and the Colorado Independent Automobile Dealers Association.

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