Scammers target Central Texas auto dealerships using stolen identities
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Several dealerships in Waco and Central Texas have been hit by groups of scammers who steal the identities of people with good credit in order to drive off with expensive cars and trucks.
“It’s sort of an ingenious way to scam the dealerships out of brand-new vehicles,” said McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara.
“We believe there’s a big ring out of Houston that’s doing this, and they’re tied in with people in other places also, like Dallas.”
McNamara said his Criminal Investigations Division (CID) is working with Waco Police Department detectives after three Waco car dealerships were recently targeted by thieves.
“The name on the documents are real people, and they have no idea that these low-lifes are using their identification and their name to purchase these vehicles,” said McNamara.
From mid-December to mid-January, Autonation Chevrolet, Waco Mitsubishi and Gray May Honda were hit by scammers, resulting in nearly $500,000 worth of vehicles stolen, or attempted to be stolen. Autonation was targeted five times, Mitsubishi was hit once, and Gray May was targeted twice, investigators said.
Six of the eight scams were successful, authorities said, and the other two were thwarted once authorities got involved.
“It happened to a lot of different dealerships here in Waco, and I also know it happened in the Temple, Belton area also,” said Greg May General Manager Kyle Binner.
Dealers say the thieves aren’t using fake ID’s or false information: they’re pretending to be real people with good credit.
“Their driver’s license number matched, their social security number matched, they used their real address, everything,” said Binner.
“A lot of times they’ll use a different address because they don’t want any mail from banks or lenders going to the real customer, and in this case they didn’t, and that’s how we found out - one of the victim’s contacted us after she received a letter from the lender saying she applied to purchase a 2019 Lincoln Navigator, which she did not.”
So far, one suspect has been caught after he was lured to Waco by authorities to allegedly buy not one, but two vehicles from different dealerships.
McNamara said the suspect brought some “buddies” with him to help him drive the vehicles away.
“When he came in our detectives pounced on him, captured him, put him in jail on multiple charges,” said McNamara.
Jason Robinson, 39, has been charged with identify theft and theft of a motor vehicle.
He was booked into the McLennan County Jail on January 14 but has since been released after posting bond.
Authorities are now working to find his accomplices, along with another group, and charge them all with organized crime.
They believe there are eight to twelve people, between two rings, involved.
“We’re trying to get all the dealerships to use every precaution that they can, and so hopefully we can catch some more of these creeps and throw the book at them,” said McNamara.
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