Man pleads guilty to running license plate fraud ring

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A New York man has admitted to operating a crime ring that rented out more than a thousand fake Pennsylvania license plates.

Rafael Levi, 51, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty Friday in Dauphin County Court to 36 third-degree felonies, Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office said. Levi was charged in April 2017 with more than 500 counts.

Prosecutors said the ring charged $400 a month for fake plates that people used in order to avoid paying more than $1 million in parking fines and highway tolls in New York, Pennsylvania, and neighboring states.

The ring dubbed “Operation Car Wash” also provided fake insurance cards, rolled back odometer readings on cars it bought and sold, and issued phony letters to PennDOT to get clean vehicle titles.

Levi also pleaded guilty on behalf of nine businesses. Each will be ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and a civil penalty of $15,000.

Eight members of the ring also pleaded guilty Friday to crimes including theft and insurance fraud.

Shapiro said his office is seeking restitution of more than $1.5 million from the defendants.

As part of his plea, Levi agreed to forfeit numerous luxury vehicles including a 2015 Rolls Royce Wraith, a 2015 Ferrari, and a 2007 Ferrari F430.

Original Article: http://abc27.com/2018/03/12/man-pleads-guilty-to-running-license-plate-fraud-ring/ 

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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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