JONESBORO — Nearly two years after a Forest Park dealership was raided and the owners were arrested for multiple violations, the Clayton County District Attorney’s office is working to reimburse at least 90 victims who were affected by an alleged scam at the hands of the owners.
Customers who fell victims to a purported scheme by JD’s Auto Sales on Jonesboro Road were given the opportunity to get some of their money back Thursday, thanks to the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson presented 68 victims with a check for $1,250 Thursday morning at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center. The remaining victims will be mailed a check.
Owner of JD’s Auto Sales, John Emumwen Egbe and his son, Sylvester Emumwen Egbe, were arrested during a raid Nov. 13, 2014. The two men face charges of certificate of title violations and false swearing due to a large number of odometer rollbacks and title fraud.
The 130-car lot was raided by officers with Georgia Department of Revenue, Clayton County District Attorney’s Office, Forest Park Police Department and Clayton County Sheriff’s Office.
A safe on the premises yielded $97,000, Lawson said.
“We successfully forfeited $125,000 from JD’s Auto Sales,” she said.
The victims will also not have to worry about any court fees, according to Lawson.
DOR case Investigator Richard Trinkwalder said the lot had been under scrutiny for possible odometer rollback and title fraud. A rollback falsely inflates the value of a vehicle by reducing the number of miles shown on the odometer.
The alleged title fraud involves recording the lower number during the sales transaction. Trinkwalder said a stolen car can be cloned by using the vehicle identification number of a legal vehicle. He said before technology advanced, rolling back an odometer was “almost an art form” requiring the use of jeweler’s tools.
Josh Waites, director of office of special investigations at Georgia Department of Revenue, said the owners of JD’s Auto Sales sold to unsuspected victims.
“A lot of people were upset. Three tires came off of a car on the interstate,” he said. “Today is an attempt to make up the loss.”
Brenda Callaway purchased a car for her 20-year-old daughter to drive to her night college class. She never imagined the car would put her daughter in danger.
The vehicle’s transmission and brake issues kept Callaway’s daughter from being able to drive it.
“I bought the car so she wouldn’t have to walk to class in the dark,” Callaway said.
Lawson said Thursday was the second best day of her career.
“Today is important because we were able to help people who were getting ripped off,” she said.
Multiple victims described the Egbes as seeming “trustworthy” and “helpful” at the time they purchased their vehicle.
John Egbe also owns a used car dealership in DeKalb, which was raided at the same time. Lawson said charges in each county were combined into a RICO violation, which allowed the government to seize Egbe’s properties.
The Egbes haven’t been indicted, but they are set to appear in front of a grand jury June 15.