The Missouri Highway Patrol Just Cracked A Big Odometer Fraud Case — Here’s How To Check Your Car

Odometer rollback schemes cost Americans $1 billion a year and is on the rise in Missouri.

Like most big criminal cases, the odometer fraud ring that Missouri Highway Patrol Cpl. Nate Bradley recently busted started with one victim.

"A gentleman came to my shop here in Lee's Summit and he said, 'Hey, I bought this car, and I think I got swindled,'" Bradley recalls. "So I started looking into it and sure enough, he got swindled."

Over a five-year investigation, Bradley eventually uncovered 48 victims of a rollback scheme around Kansas City, according to a grand jury indictment in a case that was recently unsealed.

Charged are 48-year-old Wilfred Albanese and his girlfriend, 47-year-old Susan Cunningham. The couple "purchased high-mileage used vehicles and then used a variety of means to alter or reduce the mileage shown on the odometer," according to the indictment. They would also disable the check engine light, conceal rust and other damage with paint and alter maintenance records, all to make the car look better to their victims.

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News car odometer rolled back 45,000 miles by Denver-area business

LITTLETON, Colo. -- The U.S. Justice Department calls it “clocking”: intentionally rolling back an odometer to make a vehicle appear less used.

Odometer rollback is “the single most common fraudulent issue in Colorado and nationwide." That's a bold statement made by one of this state's top auto enforcement regulators.

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Dealership Owner Gets Probation for Tampering With Odometers

SIOUX CITY, IOWA (AP) — A Nebraska man has been given three years of probation for tampering with odometers sold at his vehicle dealership in northwest Iowa.

The Sioux City Journal reports that 38-year-old Francisco Hurtado also was sentenced Wednesday to a suspended prison sentence of five years, fined $1,500 and ordered to pay more than $19,000 to seven victims. He'd pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulent practice.

Authorities say Hurtado lives in South Sioux City, Nebraska, and owns Siouxland Auto Sales in Sioux City. Iowa investigators say they found odometers in high-mileage vehicles had been rolled down to increase the vehicles' value.

Court records say Hurtado acknowledged replacing odometer clusters on some vehicles. The records say, however, that Hurtado had not followed Iowa law in resetting the replaced odometers to zero or to the original mileage, nor placing notices on the dashboards noting that the odometer clusters had been replaced.

Original Article: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/nebraska/articles/2019-04-11/dealership-owner-gets-probation-for-tampering-with-odometers

Former Kennett, MO man sentenced on mail fraud charges

A former Kennett, Missouri man has been sentenced on felony mail fraud. 

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A former Kennett, Missouri man has been sentenced on felony mail fraud.

According to the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, Nicholas H. Brock, 36, now of Brookland, Arkansas, was sentenced to four months home confinement and five years of probation for mail fraud.

Brock was also order to pay $78,180.98 in restitution.

In his guilty plea in federal court on Nov. 5, 2018, Brock admitted to defrauding a lienholder for an over-the-road tractor trailer truck claim to the Missouri Department of Revenue that he towed a truck for a breakdown.

He claimed the truck had been abandoned and tried to get a title for the vehicle through the Department of Revenue.

Brock admitted in court that the fraud began on or about Feb. 10, 2017 and continued through or about June 13, 2017 in Dunklin County, Mo.

The case was investigated by the Missouri Department of Revenue and the Missouri State Highway Patrol and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul W. Hahn.

Original Article: https://www.kfvs12.com/2019/03/18/former-kennett-mo-man-sentenced-mail-fraud-charges/

Father and Son Sentenced in Large Scale Vehicle Odometer Roll Back Scheme

Jackson, Miss. – Mark Longgrear, 54, of Jackson, was sentenced today to 57 months in prison, and his son, Zachary Longgrear, 29, of Madison, was sentenced to 28 months in prison by United States District Judge Carlton W. Reeves for conspiring to reset and alter the odometers of motor vehicles, to giving or causing to be given false statements relating to odometers, and securities fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Special Agent-in-Charge Midwest Region, Kevin L. Porter with the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The Longgrears were also ordered to pay restitution, jointly and severally, in the amount of $1.5 million.

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Odometer fraud and how to avoid it

Even with the dawn on the digital odometer, used car buyers should be aware of odometer fraud. That's the warning from Carfax.

"In fact these digital odometers can be easier to rollback because A) we're not looking for it and B), there's widespread availability of tools that simply plug into the car's computer and essentially hacking it," said Chris Basso of Carfax. 

Basso suggests checking with a site like Carfax or having an auto mechanic check out the car you're considering before you purchase. 

For the full demonstration of how a digital odometer can be rolled back, see the video player above.

Original Article: https://www.kbtx.com/content/news/Odometer-fraud-and-how-to-avoid-it-504991461.html

Illinois Motor Vehicle Employee Known as “The Plate Plan” Sentenced for Vehicle Registration Fraud Scheme

Department of Justice

St. Louis, MO – Melvin Harmon was sentenced to 33 months incarceration and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $119,359.92 for conspiracy to defraud the United States and mail fraud by assisting Missouri residents in registering their cars in Illinois.

According to evidence at trial, between January 1, 2015 and December 20, 2016, Melvin Harmon was employed at a Granite City, Illinois office registering vehicles for the State of Illinois Secretary of State.  He used his employment to assist Missouri residents in obtaining fraudulent motor vehicle registrations for others in exchange for a fee.  Some of the Missouri residents learned of his services when they saw flyers advertising Harmon as “The Plate Man.”

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Fennville couple accused of vehicle fraud

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Montcalm County man is suing a Fennville couple for allegedly selling him a pickup truck that had nearly 150,000 more miles on it than its odometer showed.

Anthony Woldring Roberts and his wife, Ashley Roberts, are accused of violating the Federal Odometer Act, fraud and reselling vehicles without a dealer license through their business, A&A Quality Services.

In the federal lawsuit filed in Grand Rapids Tuesday, lawyers for Jarred Stratton say the couple bought a pickup truck from Chicago businessman Ramiro Padilla, who is accused of purchasing high mileage vehicles and often rolling back the odometers or swapping them out for ones displaying a lower mileage.

The lawsuit accuses Padilla of buying the pickup truck from a Colorado auction, then getting a new title in Illinois, a state that does not disclose mileage in its titles.

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Department of Revenue CIB Agents Assist in Joint Task Force Operation

JEFFERSON CITY — Special Agents Doug Scotten and Mike Fryer, of the Missouri Department of Revenue’s Compliance and Investigation Bureau (CIB), recently assisted the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) in Operation Clean Sweep. The operation’s purpose was to identify salvage operations in the Kansas City metropolitan area, ensure compliance with Missouri salvage laws and locate stolen vehicles.

Operation Clean Sweep took place over the course of two days in mid-May. During that time, the task force identified an unlicensed salvage operation and a large, illegal “chop shop” operation. The task force also checked the accuracy of 898 vehicle identification numbers, visited approximately 23 salvage and body shop businesses being checked for compliance, and recovered 12 stolen vehicles, two stolen trailers and one stolen piece of equipment.

“The general purpose of investigations like Operation Clean Sweep is to ensure businesses are in compliance with Missouri’s salvage licensure laws, as well as sales tax and titling laws related to motor vehicles,” said CIB Investigation Manager Nick Humphrey. “As part of Operation Clean Sweep, DOR investigators provided their expertise in checking the validity of vehicle identification numbers, business record requirements, odometer tampering and vehicle title tampering.”

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