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Friday, 15 September 2017 12:40

Man Admits to Auto Finance Fraud

A Kansas man was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison for using stolen identities to obtain car financing.
The sentence is in addition to 20 months he has already served.
Reu Charles Chamberlain, of Wichita, Kan., pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud.
In his plea, he admitted he used a stolen identity at Eddy’s Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Wichita to qualify for a $48,902 loan to buy a 2016 Dodge Challenger. At Midway Motors in Wichita, he used a stolen identity to qualify for a $44,746 loan to buy a 2015 Dodge Challenger.

Published in Crime
Monday, 11 September 2017 01:30

Equifax Announces Breach

Equifax Inc. announced a cybersecurity incident potentially impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumers.
Criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based on the company's investigation, the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July. 
Equifax has found no evidence of unauthorized activity on Equifax's core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.
The information accessed primarily includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers.  In addition, credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers, were accessed. 

Equifax discovered the unauthorized access on July 29 and acted to stop the intrusion.
The company engaged an independent cybersecurity firm that has been conducting a forensic review to determine the scope of the intrusion, including the specific data impacted. Equifax also reported the criminal access to law enforcement and continues to work with authorities. 
While the company's investigation is substantially complete, it remains ongoing and is expected to be finished in the coming weeks.

Published in Crime
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 01:20

VW Warns Auctions of Stolen Cars

Volkswagen has reason to believe that several vehicles have been stolen with the intent of being resold at auction.
Volkswagen has alerted the authorities, who are investigating.
If an auction currently possesses or comes into possession of any of the vehicles,
Volkswagen strongly urges that they put a permanent hold on these vehicles to prevent their sale and contact the company immediately.
Auctions should contact Christine Mennel of VW Credit Inc. either by phone at (248) 754-9982 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
The VINs for the vehicles in question are available from the National Auto Auction Association.

Published in Crime
Friday, 01 September 2017 01:39

Elected Official Faces Curbstoning Charges

The Nebraska attorney general’s office filed criminal charges against Andrew F. Stebbing, the Lancaster County treasurer.
Stebbing has been charged with two counts of making a false statement in a motor vehicle bill of sale, one count of acting as a motor vehicle dealer without a license, and two counts of filing a false income tax return. All five counts are Class IV felonies, which are punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both.
In addition to any possible criminal penalties, if found guilty of any income tax violation, Stebbing may be subject to repayment of unpaid taxes plus any interest and penalties.

Published in Crime
Tuesday, 29 August 2017 01:03

State Says Couple Withheld Car Sales Tax

A New Jersey used-car dealer and his wife face charges of tax evasion.
The Bergen County prosecutor’s office claims Samyon Gilstein and his wife, Alexandra Gilstein, conspired to collect state sales tax on retail automobile sales, falsely reported the value of the tax collected, and stole the funds accumulated as a result of the false reporting.
Alexandra Gilstein worked as a clerk at her husband’s South Hackensack dealership, Sunrise Motors Inc.
Starting in December 2016, the prosecutor’s office and local police received complaints about Sunrise Motors from customers, representatives of the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission and the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, said.
Between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2016, the Gilsteins collected in excess of $1.6 million in sales tax but falsely reported on quarterly tax returns that the business had only collected approximately $360,000.
Samyon Gilstein was charged with one count of misapplication of entrusted funds, one count of failure to turn over collected, withheld tax and misconduct by a corporate official, all with a benefit greater than $75,000.
Alexandra Gilstein was charged with one count of misapplication of entrusted funds, with a benefit greater than $75,000 and one count of filing a fraudulent tax return.

Published in Crime

New-vehicle sales are expected to rise 1.5 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.53 million units in August, resulting in an estimated 16.6 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to Kelley Blue Book
After a record year of sales in 2016 and seven consecutive annual increases, Kelley Blue Book's forecast for 2017 calls for sales in the range of 16.8 and 17.3 million units, which represents a 1 to 4 percent decrease from last year.
In August, new light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to hit 1,530,000 units, up 1.5 percent compared to August 2016 and up 8.5 percent from July.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate for August is estimated to be 16.6 million, down from 16.7 million in August 2016 and down from 17.1 million in July.
Retail sales are expected to account for 86.1 percent of volume in August, up from 85.3 percent in August 2016.
There are 27 sales days in August compared to 26 sales days in August 2016.

Published in Dealers
Friday, 25 August 2017 17:52

Key Thefts Cost Stores

Key theft already comes at a high price for car dealers, but one city wants to add to that cost by making dealers legally responsible if they fail to take steps to secure their keys.

Chicago Aldermen Pat O’Connor and Harry Osterman have proposed an ordinance that would require the city’s car dealerships to secure all of their vehicles’ keys in a lockbox when the store is closed. 

The goal of the ordinance is to prevent stolen cars from being used in other crimes.

Osterman told a local newspaper that police had contacted him about a growing problem of key theft at dealerships.

The City Council’s public safety committee is considering the ordinance. Neither alderman responded for requests for comment.

Key theft has become a major problem in Chicago, and across the nation. Thieves break in at night and, in some cases, run scams during the day to steal a dealership’s collection of keys.

Jamye Tabuchi’s store was recently the target of late-night thieves.

The co-owner of Fall Creek Motors in Branson, Mo., received a call at around 2 a.m. on July 2, informing her that the motion detector at the dealership had been activated.

When she arrived at the dealership, Tabuchi found Fall Motors had been broken into and all of the store’s car keys were stolen.

Security camera footage showed an unidentified individual cutting a hole in the back of the building, going through the garage and into the dealership.

The thief then went into the office, snatching all of the keys present.

“From what I can see as far as on the security footage, it’s only one person but I don’t know if there were more people outside or not,” Tabuchi said. “They seemed to have a pretty good understanding of where our security cameras were and so I only saw one person come across the camera in the back and one from the side of the building.”

Police are still looking for the thief. Fall Creek Motors is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

Sometimes thieves use distractions rather than brute force. This was the case at Golden Motors in Cutoff, La.

Police said that four individuals came into the store during regular business hours on July 7.

One of the four created a diversion, while another stole three keys from behind a desk and left the store.

They then fled from the store, leaving the other two members of the group behind, who were arrested at the scene. 

The other two were arrested a few days later on a phone tip. Police believe they were going to use the keys to steal cars from the store.

The epidemic of key thefts is leaving dealerships looking for better security measures.

Tabuchi said that Fall Creek Motors would look into several options – from better security cameras to hiring security personnel.

Cheryl Ryan of Security Key Systems said that the most effective way to prevent key theft is creating a key control system.

A good key control system promotes accountability, just what the Chicago ordinance aims for.

“Unless you have a lock box but even that in itself, you don’t know who has the keys, who took the keys,” Ryan said. “This way if the keys are taken out of the system, you know who took the keys. So I would say that this is probably your best bet in regards to key control.”

Once keys are entered into the system, they can be tracked, letting the dealership know who had the keys. That person is then held responsible.

Ryan said the system guarantees someone cannot break into a dealership and steal the keys.

 

Published in Crime

Georgia Department of Revenue agents executed a search warrant Aug. 17 at Zoom Time Motors LLC in Lilburn.
In addition to the search warrant, an arrest warrant was issued for dealer Angela Cruel.
The raid was part of an effort by the state to reduce temporary operating permit (TOP) abuse.
A preliminary search revealed Zoom Time Motors had only four title sales in the past 12 months, but issued over 500 TOPs during the same period, many of which are believed to be fraudulent or used to avoid remitting title ad valorem tax to the state.
These violations have brought criminal charges, including computer forgery and false statements, both felonies.

Published in Crime
Saturday, 19 August 2017 12:46

Dealership Pays for VIN Etching Claims

A New York Nissan dealership paid almost $300,000 to settle charges that the store deceived customers by selling VIN etching.
Pana Nissan LLC, d/b/a Nissan of New Rochelle, will pay a $298,000 settlement to the New York attorney general for deceptively charging hundreds of consumers for VIN etching that cost up to thousands of dollars per consumer. The cost of the etching was often added onto the final cost of the vehicle without the consumer’s knowledge or consent, after the customer had agreed upon the purchase price of a vehicle but before the sale transaction was finalized.
Following a consumer complaint in August 2015 that Nissan of New Rochelle had fraudulently sold an after-sale product, the attorney general's office started an investigation into the dealership’s practices. The investigation found that Nissan of New Rochelle sold these packages to hundreds of consumers, charging from $215 to over $5,000. 
Furthermore, Nissan of New Rochelle failed to clearly disclose the nature of the after-sale product to its customers. The “Total Loss Protection” or “Total Loss Protection Guarantee” product was advertised as a permanent etch or engraving of the vehicle’s VIN, or a registered serial number, on the windows of the vehicle – supposedly to deter theft. 
However, Nissan of New Rochelle did not actually etch the VIN onto the windows of the vehicles. Instead, for some vehicles, the dealership placed sticker decals with assigned registration numbers on the inside of the door or door-jamb where no one could see them, thus having no deterrent effect. 
For other vehicles, the dealership did not even provide stickers or decals.
Consumers were also led to believe that there would be a guaranteed credit up to either $3,000 or $5,000 toward the purchase of a new vehicle should their car be stolen. However, there were numerous conditions and limitations – such as that the credit would not be applied if it eliminated the dealership’s profit on the sale – which rendered the “credit” illusory. Only one consumer ever received a credit through the Total Loss Protection program.
Under the agreement, Nissan of New Rochelle will refund $276,127 to 298 consumers who were charged an add-on fee for the Total Loss Protection product. In addition to restitution, the dealership will also pay $22,084 in penalties, fees, and costs to the state.

Published in Crime
Friday, 11 August 2017 17:46

Dealership Faces Charges of Finance Fraud

A dealership located in Erie, Pa., and three men have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.
The 13-count superseding indictment named Rick Weaver Buick-GMC Inc., along with Adam James Weaver, Douglas Alan Grooms, and Adam Brayton Coover.
According to the superseding indictment, from May 2015 to March 2016, Coover, Grooms and Weaver engaged in a scheme to defraud auto creditors by utilizing two straw purchasers to buy vehicles in their own names from Rick Weaver Buick-GMC. The vehicles would then remain in Coover’s possession. The three facilitated the scheme by falsifying the finance applications to make the straw purchasers appear more credit worthy and by not revealing that the straw purchasers were buying multiple vehicles at the same time.
The value of many of the vehicles was also inflated to increase the funds received by the co-conspirators.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 340 years in prison, a fine of $8.5 million, or both, for each defendant. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

Published in Crime
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