AG Busts Ring that Defrauded Dealers

By Staff Writer September 17, 2020

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that nine individuals have been charged with conspiring to use stolen identities to obtain New Jersey digital driver’s licenses which they used to fraudulently purchase and finance motor vehicles and watercraft worth more than $1.3 million at dealerships in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

The defendants allegedly obtained New Jersey digital driver’s licenses from the Jersey City and North Bergen Motor Vehicle Agencies using the stolen identities of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and fake Puerto Rico driver’s licenses, along with other false documents, including Social Security cards, debit cards, and birth certificates. From February 2017 through December 2018, they allegedly fraudulently purchased, financed, titled and/or transferred 26 motor vehicles and three watercraft with trailers – one boat and two jet skis – using the fraudulently obtained New Jersey driver’s licenses and the identities and credit of the victims in Puerto Rico. Ten vehicles were recovered in the U.S., but it is believed the others were shipped overseas, including seven known to have been shipped to the Dominican Republic.

9 were charged in “Operation Export”  by NJ AG Gurbir
9 were charged in “Operation Export” by NJ AG Gurbir

Eight of the nine defendants allegedly personally obtained New Jersey driver’s licenses using stolen identities and made fraudulent purchases of vehicles and/or watercraft in New Jersey or other states. The ninth allegedly conspired with the others in the document fraud and was involved in receiving and transferring stolen vehicles and watercrafts. Six of the defendants are charged with theft by deception for allegedly personally making fraudulent purchases in New Jersey.

The defendants were charged in “Operation Export,” an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau that began with a referral from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s Security and Investigations Unit. The Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) alerted the Attorney General’s Office after discovering that the Puerto Rico driver’s licenses used by the defendants to obtain New Jersey digital driver’s licenses were fraudulent.

“Within the span of two years, these defendants allegedly purchased over $1.3 million worth of vehicles and watercraft using stolen identities and fraudulently obtained New Jersey digital driver’s licenses. They then shipped a number of the stolen vehicles overseas,” said Grewal. “This case highlights that fraud involving official documents frequently is tied to larger criminal conspiracies, including identity theft and financial fraud, among other illegal activities. That is why we will remain vigilant with our partners at the Motor Vehicle Commission, who alerted us to the document fraud underlying this interstate and international criminal scheme.”

After buying a vehicle on credit, the defendants allegedly would “wash” the vehicle title by creating a fraudulent lien release or fraudulent title indicating there was no lien on the vehicle. The fake document was used to obtain a clean title in another state. That clean title was then used to transfer ownership to another individual, often within the conspiracy, allowing the vehicle to be shipped overseas.

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Last modified on Friday, 18 September 2020 14:26