ARLINGTON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles has revoked the licenses for two car dealers with ties to Columbia County.
An investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Dealer and Agent Section found that Best Motors and Manhattan Motors sold vehicles with mileage discrepancies, which is in violation of state law. The dealerships have licenses operated out of Arlington, Wisconsin. The licenses are linked to a business at 101 Skyline Drive in Arlington. Under Wisconsin state law, each licensee must have an office location and Best Motors and Manhattan Motors are registered to this location.
It is possible that these licenses belong to dealerships operated in another state.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Dealer and Agent Section licenses, regulates and resolves disputes about dealerships sales and warranty repairs, as well as educates the motor vehicle industry and public. The group also investigates complaints about odometer tampering involving dealerships and private sellers.
Two Long Beach, Mississippi, men pleaded guilty today for their roles in a long-running odometer tampering scheme, the Department of Justice announced.
Oscar M. Baine, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to alter odometers and one count of odometer tampering. Jeffrey Lyn Savarese II, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to alter odometers. Both defendants appeared in federal court in Gulfport before U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. The court set sentencing hearings for both defendants for Oct. 17.
As part of his plea agreement, Baine admitted that he purchased high-mileage vehicles from wholesale automobile auctions, dealerships, and individuals, and arranged to alter the vehicles’ odometers to reflect false, lower-mileage readings. Baine admitted that he paid Savarese and others to change or alter odometers at his used car lot in Gulfport. Baine then sold the rolled-back vehicles to unsuspecting consumers for inflated prices. Savarese admitted that he began altering odometers for Mississippi and Louisiana used-car dealers in 2011 and reset the odometers on at least 200 used vehicles for Baine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
The National Odometer and Title Fraud Enforcement Association (NOTFEA) is a non-profit, professional organization formed originally in 1980 as the National Odometer Enforcement Association (NOEA).
The association is chartered as a non-profit corporation with the Commonwealth of Virginia and is registered as a 501(C)(3) organization with the Internal Revenue Service.
Membership in NOTFEA is restricted to individuals working for law enforcement and consumer protection agencies, licensing and motor vehicle departments, and private attorneys and investigators who are responsible for detecting, deterring, and prosecuting odometer, rebuilt/salvage, and other title fraud offenders under state, federal, and other applicable laws.