Norfolk man pleads guilty to rolling back odometers on at least 50 used cars, reselling for profit

A Norfolk man conspired to roll back the odometers of more than 50 vehicles before selling them to used-car dealerships and others, according to court documents.

Lawson W. Basnight, 47, pleaded guilty Thursday to the fraud – which resulted in $250,000 to $550,000 in losses.

“He’s accepted responsibility and knows what he did was wrong,” Moody “Sonny” Stallings Jr., Basnight’s attorney, said after the plea hearing. He said his client expects to serve some time in jail and was ready to start his sentence Thursday, “but the judge talked him out of it.”

A sentencing hearing is set for May 16 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. Basnight faces a maximum of five years in prison.

Prosecutors Jacqueline Blaesi-Freed and Elizabeth Yusi declined to comment.

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Mother-daughter employees of Central Texas tax office arrested

CAMERON, Texas (KWTX) A mother and daughter who worked in the Milam County Tax Office were free on bond Tuesday after they were arrested on warrants stemming from an investigation of forged vehicle registrations.

Lydia Cervantes, 55, and her daughter Laura Renee Cervantes, 26, were arrested at the tax office Monday by agents from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Milam County Sheriff David E. Green said.

Green said both were booked into the county jail and were released after posting bond.

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Man Switching Odometers Gets Two Years in South Dakota Penitentiary

A man who lived in Sioux Falls and sold vehicles at River Auto Sales, LLC has been sentenced to two years in the South Dakota Penitentiary.

Chad Michael Blair, 42, formerly of Sioux Falls and currently listed as a resident of Houston Texas, was sentenced November 28 to one count of deceptive trade practices and one count of odometer alteration. Blair was also ordered to pay $3,375 in restitution.

Attorney General Marty Jackley commented on the conviction and subsequent sentencing.

“Tampering with odometers in order to get more money for vehicles from innocent victims is wrong and illegal,” said Jackley. “We will continue to hold responsible individuals who take unfair advantage of consumers.”

According to a statement from the South Dakota Attorney General's office, Blair managed River Auto Sales, swapping high mileage odometers with lower mileage odometers obtained from a used auto parts retailer. State law requires a notice to be posted with the vehicle of a changed odometer, which was not done.

This case was investigated by South Dakota Division of Revenue and the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office

Original Article: http://ksoo.com/man-switching-odometers-gets-two-years-in-south-dakota-penitentiary/

Two arrested in misconduct investigation into Denton County Tax Office

Two people were arrested on bribery charges last month in connection with a misconduct investigation into the Denton County Tax Office.

Former tax office employee Tramanski Johnson, who worked at the Lewisville branch, was booked into Denton County Jail on Sept. 12 after turning himself in on the bribery charge, police said. Juana Caballero, a notary public who allegedly notarized forged documents, was booked on the bribery charge Sept. 11.

The Denton County Sheriff's Office investigated the case. The affidavit in support of the suspects' arrest outlines a complex scheme involving bribes to process fraudulent vehicle title transfers.

The tax office collects property taxes, renews vehicle registrations and contracts with several car dealerships to issue titles on new vehicles. The office has six locations within the county, including Lewisville, Cross Roads, Frisco and Flower Mound. The main Denton office is at 1505 E. McKinney St. Continue reading

Emissions test, odometer fraud found at vehicle inspection stations in Harris County, deputies say

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — At least two people have been arrested after an investigation revealed the suspects were conducting fraudulent vehicle inspections at two separate stations in Houston, the Harris County Pct. 4 Constable’s Office said.

Investigators received information that BI-LO Used Cars located at 2823 South Shaver Street was allegedly rolling back odometers on used cars and conducting fraudulent vehicle inspections using a procedure called clean scanning.

Clean scanning is when an inspector tricks the monitoring tool by entering in the vehicle identification number for an automobile that would fail an emissions test, but then connects the monitor to a vehicle that would pass. Meanwhile, odometer rollback is the illegal practice of changing or altering the mileage readings on vehicle to make it appear as though it has been driven less than it has.

Investigators report that over a 90 day period 54 percent of the vehicle inspections conducted were unlawful.

Another investigation concentrated on Hardy’s State Inspection located at 12965 W. Hardy Road was also using a “clean scanning” procedure. The shop is a state-licensed vehicle inspection station, deputies said.

The constable’s office reported over a 90 day period 76 percent of the vehicle inspections conducted were unlawful.

Deputies said arrest warrants were executed at both shops, resulting in the arrest of Adel Yacoub and Raymond Mentzel.

Yacoub and Mentzel are each facing two counts of tampering with a governmental record.

Original Article: http://cw39.com/2017/10/20/emissions-test-odometer-fraud-found-at-vehicle-inspection-stations-in-harris-county-deputies-say/

‘Rolling back’ suspect accused of tampering with hundreds of vehicles

A Grand Prairie man is accused of rolling back odometers to hundreds of vehicles in Texas. Star-Telegram - Courtesy

Used car dealership caught selling cars with modified odometers

SOUTH MILWAUKEE, Wis. —

A used car dealership was caught selling cars with modified odometers.

Customers didn't find out the odometers had been tampered with until after they bought them.

Moe Motors in South Milwaukee is coming off a 21-day suspension after an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation revealed they lowered odometers and didn't disclose the changes, which is required by law.

"Set it back to 0 and you put a sticker on the doorjamb that says what the reading was, or you have to reset that odometer and the cluster to what the previous reading was," said Michael Domke with the Department of Transportation. 

Domke said the company sold 11 cars with odometer violations.

Moe Motors has to pay more than $13,000 to those customers.

No one at Moe's was available for comment Friday. Domke said violations like this are rare at licensed dealers.

"Most common we see it in private party sales, like cars being sold on Craigslist or other places online," Domke said. 

Moe Motors is back open, but the DOT said they could force them out of business if this happens again.

Original Article: http://www.wisn.com/article/used-car-dealership-caught-selling-cars-with-modified-odometers/10217156

Police make arrests in months-long odometer-tampering scheme

The Philomath Police Department culminated a five-month investigation Wednesday morning with the arrests of three men in connection with alleged odometer tampering through an auto sales operation.

Cody Kin Marten, 21, of Philomath, faces four counts each for unlawful tampering with an odometer, theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft — all felonies. Jeffrey Lynn Watters, 27, of Corvallis, and London Rae Fields, 22, of Corvallis, were cited for felony unlawful tampering with an odometer.

"We have seized over a hundred titles and sales documents from the suspects and in the coming weeks, we are going to put out on the Philomath website, vehicles and license plate numbers that we know were sold by these individuals," Philomath Chief of Police Ken Rueben said. "We are hoping to have victims contact us and verify what their vehicle was and what the odometer reading was on those cars."

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Former Auto Body Repair Shop Owner Sentenced for Role in Odometer and Title Fraud Scheme

Department of Justice

A Lawrenceville, Georgia man was sentenced in Norfolk, Virginia for his role in an odometer tampering and title fraud scheme, the Justice Department announced today.

Paul Robinson, 38, was sentenced to serve 37 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release by Judge Robert G. Doumar in the Eastern District of Virginia. Judge Doumar also ordered Robinson to pay $320,797.82 in restitution to victims who purchased vehicles with rolled back odometers. 

In February, Robinson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit odometer tamping and securities fraud. Robinson, who formerly owned Affordable Auto Body Repair in Chesapeake, Virginia, admitted that he purchased high mileage vehicles, and that he, or someone acting at his direction, altered the vehicles’ odometers to reflect a fraudulent low mileage reading. Robinson and his co-conspirators then acquired Virginia motor vehicle titles with false, low mileage odometer readings. Those titles were used to sell the vehicles to unsuspecting purchasers.

“Not only does odometer fraud result in consumers paying more for their vehicles and having higher repair costs, there are significant safety risks in unknowingly driving high mileage vehicles,” said Acting Assistant Attorney Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We are committed to protecting consumers by prosecuting individuals who engage in these schemes.”

From 2012 to 2014, Robinson and his co-conspirators tampered with odometers and secured fraudulent motor vehicle titles for more than 100 vehicles. At times, the mileage readings on the altered odometers and fraudulent titles were 150,000 miles less than the vehicles’ actual mileage.

One of Robinson’s co-conspirators, Steven Bazemore, a former title clerk who assisted Robinson with securing fraudulent motor vehicles, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud.  On Sept. 22, 2016, Bazemore was sentenced to five years of probation, with the first year as home detention, and ordered to pay $219,552.82 in restitution to the victims.

This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys John W. Burke and Jacqueline Blaesi-Freed of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Salsbury of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  The investigation was handled by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA).

NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually and has established a special hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints.  Individuals having information relating to odometer tampering should call (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761.

More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA website https://one.nhtsa.gov/Vehicle-Safety/Odometer-Fraud and tips on detecting and avoiding odometer fraud are available at this page: www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nvs/pdf/811284.pdf

For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.

For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva.