David Bernando 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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A man who was once a top salesman at a San Fernando Valley car dealership was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison for conspiring to roll back vehicle odometers in a scheme in which people paid up to $400 to avoid penalties for exceeding mileage limits on leases or to increase auto trade-in values.
Jeffrey Levy, a former salesman at Galpin Ford in North Hills, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release upon getting out of prison and to pay restitution of about $115,800 to the owners of 21 cars with altered odometers.
U.S. District Judge George H. King ordered that $35,000 of the amount be paid immediately.
The judge also prohibited the 62-year-old Woodland Hills resident from employment related to the purchase, sale, leasing, or financing of new or used motor vehicles during the period of supervised release and ordered him to undergo treatment for mental health issues and a gambling addiction.
Monday, March 16, 2015 Car Salesman Sentenced to Prison for Odometer Fraud Scheme
A car salesman was sentenced earlier today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to serve one year and one day in prison on charges related to an odometer tampering scheme, the Justice Department announced.
Jeffrey Levy, 63, of Woodland Hills, California, was also ordered to pay $115,818.80 in restitution to victims who purchased vehicles without knowing the odometers displayed incorrect mileages. In November 2014, Levy pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to tamper with odometers.
“A car salesman should know better than anyone that odometer tampering is a fraud and a crime,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “As this prosecution demonstrates, criminals with an electronic tool can easily alter electronic vehicle odometers, defrauding future car buyers.”
CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein first confronted Shamai Salpeter (right) and uncovered the odometer fraud scheme in 2012. (CBS)
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former San Fernando Valley car salesman was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison for rolling back odometers for people who exceeded mileage limits on their leases.
Jeffrey Levy, 62, was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release upon getting out of prison and to pay restitution of about $115,800 to the owners of 21 cars with altered odometers.
U.S. District Judge George H. King ordered that $35,000 of the amount be paid immediately.
Levy was also prohibited from employment related to the purchase, sale, leasing, or financing of new or used motor vehicles during the period of supervised release and ordered him to undergo treatment for mental health issues and a gambling addiction.
A total of 28 suspects were arrested throughout Southern California on Feb. 26 during a multi-agency investigation into a large-scale vehicle theft operation, according to California Highway Patrol.
The investigation was spearheaded by the CHP Border Division's Orange County Auto Theft Task Force (O.C.A.T.T.), along with the Ontario Police Department and more than 15 other state and local agencies from four counties.
Suspects who were wanted for vehicle theft, identity theft, credit card and insurance fraud were arrested in various cities.
The operation “Hogg Life” developed after an extensive investigation in which O.C.A.T.T. investigators identified 47 suspects, 125 stolen vehicles and several local businesses from information stemming from a traffic enforcement stop by the Ontario P.D.
The investigation involved the fraudulent removal of lien holders (legal owners) from the vehicles' titles, commonly known as “Title Washing.” These vehicles were then utilized to commit various additional crimes throughout Southern California. The coordination of resources from numerous multi-jurisdictional task forces and agencies resulted in 103 vehicles being recovered or accounted for.
In addition, as a result of the operation, three weapons were seized and 18 additional vehicles were identified as either possibly stolen, vin-switched or fraudulently purchased.
Original Article: http://www.fontanaheraldnews.com/news/article_b6060e62-bf91-11e4-bdaf-33e7e10ecf2b.html
Johnson County officials are cracking down on an increasing number of attempts to use fraudulently obtained vehicle titles at the Treasurer's Office.
The Treasurer's Office used to catch about one person a year trying to use a stolen or fraudulent car title to take ownership of a stolen vehicle, County Treasurer Tom Kriz said. Now, they're catching about one a month.
The increase in fraudulent titles began three years ago, Kriz said, and has put county staff in a tough position as they try to spot them from among the 3,000 title transfers handled each month.
People who present fraudulent titles also have been creating a scene at the county administration building recently as police have been called to arrest those attempting to commit the fraud.
On Feb. 5, Tyson E Marshek, 30, of Iowa City, was arrested for allegedly trying to obtain a fraudulent title for a stolen 2011 Infiniti, according to online court documents.
Marshek was a part of a large auto theft ring based in Chicago, according to an email from Iowa Department of Transportation Investigator Matt Dingbaum. Marshek was charged with fraudulent practice, a class C felony, according to court records.
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.
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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A Queens, New York, man and his Israeli brother were charged in indictments unsealed today in federal courts in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, New York, with offenses related to a long-running odometer tampering and money laundering scheme, the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced.
Chaim Gali aka Mike Gali and John Triculy, 40, of Queens Village, New York, and Shmuel Gali aka Sam Gali, 42, of Israel, are charged in a 15-count indictment in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (EDPA) with conspiracy, securities fraud and false odometer statements. The Galis are also charged in a related two-count indictment in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) with mail and wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. If convicted of the charges in the EDPA indictment, the defendants face a statutory maximum of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge; a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison for each securities fraud charge and up to three years in prison for each false odometer statement charge. If convicted of the charges in the EDNY indictment, they face a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison for each of the charges.
“Mileage is one of the most important factors in a consumer’s decision to purchase a used car,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Misrepresenting the mileage on a used car fraudulently induces a consumer to pay more money for less value, and it hides necessary information that will affect how a consumer maintains and repairs that vehicle.”
The indictments allege that the Galis devised a scheme to defraud buyers of used motor vehicles by misrepresenting the mileage of approximately 690 vehicles they sold beginning as early as 2006 and through at least 2011. The indictments charge that the Galis used fictitious dealer names to purchase high-mileage, used motor vehicles from a national vehicle leasing company. The defendants are charged with conspiring to alter the odometers in these vehicles, which they purchased in Florida, Maryland, Missouri and elsewhere, to reflect false lower mileages. The indictments allege that the Galis then fraudulently altered the motor vehicle titles to reflect the false lower mileages and as a result, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued motor vehicle titles reflecting the altered mileages.