11 charged in car dealership scam

July 23, 2008 4:04:37 PM PDT
Two used car dealerships in the Five Towns of Nassau County allegedly ran a million-dollar identity theft scam that was unraveled with the arrests of 11 employees. Eyewitness News is told the investigation stemmed from the January 2007 murder of Colin Thomas, a car salesman at Universal Auto World in Lawrence.

Thomas, a father of two, was shot in the back outside the showroom of Universal Auto World as he closed up for the night on Jan. 11.

The million-dollar scam wasr allegedly run by Rajmohan Autar and William White, both Universal Auto World employees, who used stolen identities to buy luxury cars.

Police say they stole and bought the identities, then used the fake identities to obtain at least $1.3 million in financing for fancy cars.

The luxury models, including Maseratis and Aston Martins, were then illegally sold or transferred to individuals who didn't want cars in their real names.

The alleged scam:

  • Stole peoples identities.
  • Bought identities for about $2,000 each.
  • Used the identities, plus fake pay stubs and bills, to get car loans of $100,000 or more for luxury cars.
  • Sold or transferred cars to people who wanted a vehicle not registered in their own names.
  • Universal shut its doors last year and liquidated its assets.

    The probe also uncovered illegal activities at nearby Victory Toyota, where employee Anne Edgar Lockhart and a former finance manager forced customers to purchase anti-theft devices and extended warranties.

    In a morning news conference, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said 11 arrests have been made.

    Rice said she could only speculate on the reasons why people would hide their identity. Says Rice: "None of them are good."

    A spokesman said drug dealers and other criminal types might be prime candidates for such anonymity.

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    WEB PRODUCED BY: Lakisha Bostick


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