Florida law enforcement officials arrested five suspects, with two more pending, in connection with a new-car dealership’s complex fraud scheme.

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, in coordination with the Florida Highway Patrol, reported that they identified a criminal enterprise operating out of Auto Sports of South Florida, a dealership in Broward County and Osceola County.

Investigators established that suspects were fraudulently taking possession of vehicles and applying for duplicate titles by using fictitious documents and methods.

“These scammers fraudulently took possession of vehicles and created fake documents to obtain titles, all to make a dishonest dollar at the expense of consumers,” Moody said. “I’m proud to have my office partner with local law enforcement to take these criminals down.”

According to the multi-agency investigation, members of the criminal organization submitted documents, including fraudulent power of attorney documents, to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles making it appear as though the financing for the fraudulently obtained vehicles was paid in full and the loans satisfied.

The investigation revealed that the fraudulent documents allowed members of the group to obtain duplicate titles to the cars. Because the duplicate titles appeared legitimate, the members of the criminal organization, including the owner of Auto Sports of South Florida, were able to sell the cars to others, including good faith purchasers for a large profit. The investigation took place over a span of 12 months and involved seven Florida counties.

The suspects, David Cruz, Janine Eid, Nickelson Fervil, Pedro Negret, Nigil Parker, Mark Solomon and Reynold Vergara, are charged with 51 counts of offenses that include racketeering, grand theft, identity theft, money laundering and insurance fraud. Cruz, Eid, Fervil, Parker and Solomon were all arrested. Arrest warrants for Negret and Vergara are pending at press time.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 30 years in prison for each of the numerous first-degree felonies charged.

PureCars, a provider of digital marketing and advertising insights for automotive dealers, announced it has expanded its strategic OEM partnership with Toyota and is now certified to offer digital advertising resources for Fixed Ops through its Toyota Parts & Service Program.

Drive more service-to-sales leadsThe integrated, multi-channel digital advertising program through the PureCars Platform helps OEM partners design, develop and deploy unique and proven advertising campaigns for Fixed Ops. Custom advertising plans for the program include search, display, social media and video tailored to Toyota dealers’ specific parts and service needs.

The program comes at a critical time as dealers across the country continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. PureCars digital advertising data shows that dealership spending on Fixed Ops advertising has increased 67 percent between the middle of June and end of the month.

“Fixed Ops have proven to be a continually vital part of every dealer’s business, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when keeping cars serviceable for transport is paramount,” said Jeremy Anspach, CEO of PureCars. “Dealers certainly see the value in promoting their Fixed Ops business, and they are leveraging a wide array of digital advertising channels in order to do so, knowing that drivers are on a multitude of digital screens either for work or leisure activities.”

The General Assembly of North Carolina has amended its laws governing the title transfer of salvage vehicles by removing notary requirements, permitting electronic signatures and allowing access to division of motor vehicle systems.

Prompted by the global health crisis, the amendment, due to be signed into law in mid-July, marks a new milestone because now 25 – half the states -- would officially be eligible to transfer total loss titles digitally.

“With the passage of HB 337 (Regular Session 2019), North Carolina became the 25th state to enable electronic salvage title processing,” said Sarah Hunsicker, director of government affairs for Dealertrack Registration and Title Solutions.

Even before the pandemic forced dealerships, DMVs and auctions to operate with fewer staff and social distancing, total loss title processing could take 8-10 weeks. The new law paves the way for digital processing of total loss titles in North Carolina.

The Federal Trade Commission released the final agenda for a July 13, 2020 virtual workshop that will seek input on proposed changes to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act‘s Safeguards Rule, which requires financial institutions to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive information security program.

The virtual workshop will examine some of the issues raised in response to amendments the FTC has proposed to the Safeguards Rule. In 2019, the FTC sought comments on the proposed amendments to the rule.

The virtual workshop will feature five panel discussions examining such issues as: the costs and benefits of information security programs; how information security programs and practices scale to smaller businesses; continuous monitoring, penetration, and vulnerability testing; accountability, risk management, and governance of information security programs; and encryption and multifactor authentication.

The workshop will be held online. Information about how to view the workshop will be posted on the event page.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can be fired by the President and that the structure of the body violates the Constitution’s separation of powers.

“We hold that the CFPB’s leadership by a single individual removable only for inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance violates the separation of powers,’” The Court stated.

The decision allows the President to fire the head of the agency at will but does allow the agency to continue to operate.

The case, Seila Law v. CFPB, involved a challenge to the constitutionality of the CFPB’s structure, an independent agency led by a single director. The CFPB is funded by the Federal Reserve – not Congress. Its director, while serving a five-year term can only be removed for cause, unlike other political appointments.

Since the CFPB’s inception in 2011, following the 2008 financial crisis, it  has been a political lightning rod.

The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association has sparred with the bureau in recent years over two issues: arbitration and open recalls.

President Donald Trump’s Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to take up the issue after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Court ruled the CFPB’s structure constitutional.

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