Maine couple stuck with a lemon of a vehicle – and now they know why

Patrick and Kristi Smith of Waterville stand with their 2005 Subaru Outback after learning Thursday that the vehicle’s seller, James Shaw of Standish, allegedly tampered with the odometer. “It actually answers a bunch of questions for us,” Kristi Smith said. “We’ve had nothing but problems.” Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

When Kristi Smith and her husband, Patrick, bought their Subaru from a Standish man in January 2017, she knew something seemed off. 

The 2005 Outback had only 117,000 miles on it, and for the Smith family, the price was right – $3,500.

“We went to go buy the car and the guy wouldn’t look me in the face,” said Kristi Smith, 43. “But it was a really good deal with low miles, so it was like, ‘Whatever.’ ”

Now, 15 months and several thousand dollars in car repairs later, the Smiths are among more than a dozen car buyers who were allegedly suckered by James Shaw, 35, who has been charged with tampering with the vehicles’ odometers and other crimes.

Shaw was supposed to appear Thursday in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court to answer to the 17-count complaint, but he didn’t show up, so a judge issued a warrant for his arrest, court records show.

The complaint, issued by the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, is the culmination of two years of work.

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Digital license plates could be in Florida’s future

Digital license plates may be the future and it could help save taxpayers millions.

According to NBC News, a company called Reviver Auto has developed electronic license plates, dubbed Rplates

Rplates are now on sale in California, and will be available in Arizona, Texas and Florida in the near future.

Reviver Auto CEO Neville Boston said his company is working to legalize them in another nine states by the end of the year.

The plates retail for $699, plus a monthly service plan that costs up to $7.75 for the desktop browser-based software to manage the system and optional GPS tracking.

With the plates, drivers would never have to renew their tag in person at the DMV office or through the mail.  They could simply do it online with no need to replace stickers each year.

The same goes for customization. 

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Iowa DOT warning of cars sold with odometers rolled back

A Sioux City car dealer was rolling back odometers on vehicles to show fewer miles and increase the vehicle's value, the Iowa Department of Transportation says.

The DOT says the fraud happened at Siouxland Sales in Sioux City from 2016 to 2018. The DOT says it got a tip in December of last year. An investigation found three victims and 14 vehicles that were tampered with. Authorities served a search warrant on Jan. 17.

 

Siouxland Sales owner Francisco Hurtado was booked in the Woodbury County Jail April 26 on six counts of second-degree fraudulent practice.

Anyone affected should call the Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection at 515-237-3050 or email invbureau@iowadot.us with vehicle and contact information.

Original Article: http://kcci.com/article/iowa-dot-warning-of-cars-sold-with-odometers-rolled-back/20172284?src=app 

Jackson Man Charged in Large Scale Vehicle Odometer Roll Back Scheme

Department of Justice
Jackson, Miss. – Mark Longgrear, 53, of Jackson, Mississippi was arrested yesterday and charged in a federal criminal complaint with rolling back the odometers of multiple high mileage vehicles and selling such fraudulently altered vehicles with doctored titles, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Supervisory Special Agent David W. Sparks with the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation.

Longgrear appeared in court today for an initial appearance on the criminal complaint before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda R. Anderson.

According to the criminal complaint and affidavit, for at least the last four years, Mark Longgrear, operating individually and through his company Southern Auto Buyers LLC, bought more than 50 late model, high mileage vehicles from auctions, dealerships, and/or individuals, thereafter illegally altered the odometers of such vehicles to show lower mileage, forged and fraudulently created paperwork to secure new titles showing false lower mileage for these vehicles, and then sold said vehicles directly to individuals and automobile dealerships at much higher prices. He used internet websites to sell some of these vehicles directly to consumers, and also used employment and wholesale relationships with large Mississippi automobile dealerships in Jackson and Vicksburg to sell these fraudulently altered odometer vehicles to these dealerships, who in turn unknowingly sold them to consumers with this false information.

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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/ 

Norfolk man pleads guilty to rolling back odometers on at least 50 used cars, reselling for profit

A Norfolk man conspired to roll back the odometers of more than 50 vehicles before selling them to used-car dealerships and others, according to court documents.

Lawson W. Basnight, 47, pleaded guilty Thursday to the fraud – which resulted in $250,000 to $550,000 in losses.

“He’s accepted responsibility and knows what he did was wrong,” Moody “Sonny” Stallings Jr., Basnight’s attorney, said after the plea hearing. He said his client expects to serve some time in jail and was ready to start his sentence Thursday, “but the judge talked him out of it.”

A sentencing hearing is set for May 16 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. Basnight faces a maximum of five years in prison.

Prosecutors Jacqueline Blaesi-Freed and Elizabeth Yusi declined to comment.

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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/