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.
(InvestigateTV) - There’s a hidden danger on the roads – one that’s illegal and potentially putting families at risk: rolled-back odometers.
Experts say vehicle odometers are easier than ever to roll back.
“Our research shows there are now 1.6 million cars that are on roads across the country that have an odometer rolled back, and that’s costing consumers millions of dollars,” said Chris Basso, who works with Carfax, a company that provides vehicle history reports.
In a demonstration with Carfax, an odometer on a 2006 Chevy Silverado with 230,323 miles was tampered with in less than 30 seconds. A technician with an inexpensive electronic device was able to erase nearly 100,000 miles of wear, tear and history, leaving the Silverado with 130,483 miles.
Watch the video below to see a demonstration of an odometer rollback and hear how that affects the value of a vehicle.
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.
Huntsville – A federal jury on Thursday, April 4, 2019, convicted a Huntsville man on multiple counts of tampering with vehicle odometers and three counts of bank fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Michael Williams.
Following a four day trial before U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon, and only a 20-minute deliberation by the jury, Randy Eugene Greene, 62, was convicted of 11 counts of tampering with vehicle odometers and 3 counts of bank fraud. A sentencing date has been set before Judge Abdul K. Kallon on July 17, 2019.
Randy Eugene Greene, d/b/a RJ’s Auto Sales on South Memorial Parkway in Huntsville, was convicted by the jury of 11 counts of tampering with vehicle odometers and 3 counts of bank fraud. In the 11 counts related to odometer tampering, the offenses occurred between approximately October 1, 2014, and November 2, 2016. The largest discrepancy in the changed odometer reading was approximately 218,678 miles. The average discrepancy in the mileage on the odometers for the various vehicles was 122,046 miles. In the three counts related to Bank Fraud, Greene engaged in a scheme to defraud Redstone Federal Credit Union. The fraud occurred when the credit union financed three of the vehicles on which the odometers had been changed. Greene was served with a notice of forfeiture related to the bank fraud counts, which includes but is not limited to a money judgement in the amount of $28,000.
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.
Used car buyers in Austin are getting ripped off in record numbers. Con artists are rolling back the mileage on odometers to make the vehicles seem more valuable. The fraud is costing victims an average of $4,000 each.
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.
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.