‘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.

Massachusetts State police warn of vehicle odometer rollback scam

The Massachusetts State Police, in conjunction with the Missouri Highway Patrol have been investigating a series of consumer frauds, related to the purchase and subsequent sale of motor vehicles by a man and woman residing in Connecticut and the Kansas City Metropolitan area.

The couple purchases a vehicle, typically from the Craigslist internet auction site. The vehicle’s mileage reading is altered and the vehicle is placed back on Craigslist. The two suspects pose as the previous owners of the vehicle. The investigation revealed approximately 48 vehicle purchases/sales within the past year in the Kansas City Missouri area and an undetermined number of vehicles sold in the Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. It is possible not all the transactions involve an odometer rollback. Investigators are seeking to discuss these transactions with the sellers and purchasers of these vehicles. There has been no indication of impropriety on behalf of the sellers or purchasers, and investigators are still trying to determine the potential number of victims.

The suspects do not use their names during, and typically use disposable pay-as-you-go cell phones. The man is approximately 5’9”, medium build, and has an “East Coast” accent. If present, the woman typically stays in a green Nissan Quest minivan with their children while the transactions are conducted.

If you or someone you know has purchased a vehicle from these individuals please contact Massachusetts State Police Compliance Unit Trooper Stephen Walker, at 857-368-8626.

Original Article: https://www.newbedfordguide.com/massachusetts-state-police-warn-of-vehicle-odometer-rollback-scam/2017/06/01

Georgia Dealer and Title Clerk Sentenced in Odometer Fraud Scheme

Department of Justice

Two Georgia residents were sentenced in Atlanta, Georgia today for their roles in a conspiracy to alter odometers of used motor vehicles, the Justice Department announced.

Rojen Burnett, 35, of Conyers, Georgia, and Amber McLaughlin, 33, of Duluth, Georgia, each were sentenced to 12 months in prison and three years of supervised release by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr.

Burnett owned and operated Lifestyle Auto Broker LLC, a Georgia corporation that bought and sold used motor vehicles; McLaughlin was a former customer service specialist at the Motor Vehicle Department of the Georgia Department of Revenue. In 2012 and 2013, Burnett bought high-mileage used motor vehicles, altered the mileage on the titles, rolled-back the odometers, obtained new titles with false low mileages, and sold the vehicles to unsuspecting dealers. The dealers, in turn, sold them to consumers. McLaughlin helped Burnett commit odometer fraud by fraudulently issuing new Georgia titles with false low mileages in exchange for cash.

“Buying a car or truck is one of the biggest financial decisions that consumers make,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Odometer fraudsters victimize consumers by making them pay substantially more for a used car that is less safe and less reliable than the consumer wanted or needed. The Justice Department will hold these fraudsters accountable for their crimes.”+

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Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) – Press Release

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV)

In April 2014, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) received several complaints from a county tax office regarding the use of fraudulent identification documents to transfer titles. The TxDMV opened an investigation and determined Damaris Sarai Martinez submitted over 40 title transactions listing fraudulent Texas driver licenses, fraudulent addresses, and fraudulent trade allowances. The TxDMV partnered with the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division to further investigate Martinez. A search warrant was obtained for a location where she operated and fraudulent documents were obtained. Martinez was charged for violation of Texas Transportation Code, Section 501.155, False Name, False Information, and Forgery, which is a third degree felony. On February 24, 2017, she entered into a plea agreement for ten years confinement in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and payment of a $2,000 fine. The sentence was suspended, and she was placed on probation for five years. Martinez was subsequently taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.

Lebanon Car Dealer Sentenced for Odometer Rollback Fraud Scheme

Department of Justice

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Lebanon, Mo., automobile dealer was sentenced in federal court today 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, 62, of Lebanon, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 18 months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Smith to pay a $50,000 fine.

Smith, who operated Cars Unlimited in Lebanon, pleaded guilty to mail fraud on June 21, 2016.

When Cars Unlimited bought used cars at auction, the titles would show the correct mileage. Smith admitted that, instead of filing those titles with the state of Missouri, he requested replacement titles that showed a lower mileage. Smith could then sell the vehicle at a higher price. When investigators executed a search warrant at the business, they found instrument clusters used to replace odometers in vehicles.

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) applied for and received 54 replacement titles from the state, each of which underreported the vehicle’s actual mileage. Smith 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.

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 submitted an "Application for Missouri Title and License" seeking a replacement title for the vehicle. Although he sought a replacement title, he in fact possessed the original title for the vehicle. In each of those instances, Smith 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.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the FBI and the Missouri Department of Revenue, Compliance and Investigation Bureau.

Piqua man sentenced in odometer scam

Scott Carnes Jr.

A Piqua man convicted with three others in a scheme in which vehicle odometers were turned back before they were sold was sentenced Monday, Aug. 22, to 18 months in prison.

Scott Carnes Jr. ,32, was convicted in Miami County Common Pleas Court of felony charges of tampering with records, tampering with odometers and transferring a motor vehicle with a tampered or nonfunctioning odometer.

Prosecutors said the four men allegedly altered odometers and tampered with titles of used vehicles sold at two Piqua auto dealerships between May 2011 and November 2013. Prosecutors said they worked at Mills Auto Sales on South Street and A Auto Sales on Clark Avenue, both in Piqua.

Carnes’ lawyer, Robert Huffman Jr., said he had no prior felony convictions and had cooperated with investigators. Carnes asked the judge for probation saying he took responsibility for his actions.

Judge Christopher Gee said the men’s actions had a significant impact on people who couldn’t afford to pay much for a car. The men, he said, “were stealing their money for a basically worthless car.”

Two other defendants already before the judge received sentences of 18 months and nine months in prison. The last defendant is scheduled for sentencing next week