By Pat Reavy@DNewsCrimeTeam Aug 6, 2020, 10:09am MDT
SALT LAKE CITY — A man who has several pending cases on charges of changing the odometers of vehicles and selling them has been charged yet again.
Steve Stone, 25, of Lehi, was charged Thursday in 3rd District Court with fraudulently changing an odometer, a third-degree felony.
On July 11, 2019, a man met with Stone to buy a vehicle he found online, according to charging documents. After purchasing the vehicle, the victim “checked the Carfax history and discovered a mileage discrepancy of over 90,000 miles,” the charges state.
The victim then found an article that originally appeared in the Deseret News that talked about Stone being accused of doing the same thing, and recognized Stone as the person who sold him the vehicle, according to charging documents.
For Stone, it’s the latest in a series of investigations involving odometer tampering.
He and two family members were charged in April 2019 with five counts of communications fraud and five counts of odometer violation. A pretrial conference for that case was scheduled for Aug. 24.
Stone was charged with similar crimes in April, July and October of 2018, and July 2017. A preliminary hearing regarding all of his pending cases was scheduled for Aug. 24.
Monroe police officers arrested Jovani Capozziello, 33, with assistance from Bridgeport officers, at his home Tuesday, where he was hiding in the basement, according to police.
Capozziello was charged with illegal tampering with an odometer, third-degree larceny, third-degree telephone fraud, criminal impersonation, and three counts of second-degree forgery.
He was released on $25,000 bond for a July 24 court date, then released to the Bridgeport Police Department on its active arrest warrants for other incidents.
On Feb. 26, a Monroe man filed a fraud complaint, telling police he inquired about a vehicle posted for sale on Craigslist on Feb. 25 and spoke to the seller, who went by the name of Carlos.
After agreeing to terms, police said the victim met the seller at the Henny Penny gas station at 241 Roosevelt Drive in Monroe on Feb. 25, did a test drive and was satisfied with the vehicle, according to the report.
Police said he paid the seller $3,000 in cash for the Subaru and received a copy of the Connecticut Certificate of Title and Assignment of Ownership (Bill of Sale) for the vehicle.
But when the victim attempted to register and insure the vehicle, he discovered the title was fraudulent, the odometer had been altered and the Subaru was actually one year older than the seller originally told to him.
After communicating with “Carlos” about these discrepancies, he received an altered New York Certificate of Title that was mailed without a return address, police said.
During the investigation, Monroe police detectives used phone records to develop Jovani Capozziello as a suspect. Based upon this information and the victim’s statements, an arrest warrant was granted by the Superior Court.
Two Mississippi Men Sentenced for Roles in Automotive Fraud Scheme
Two Long Beach, Mississippi men were sentenced today for their roles in a long-running odometer tampering scheme, the Department of Justice announced.
U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. sentenced Oscar M. Baine, 42, to 36 months’ incarceration and ordered him to pay $619,200 in restitution. Jeffrey Lyn Savarese II, 36, was sentenced to 15 months’ incarceration and ordered to pay $320,000 in restitution. Both men pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to alter odometers. Baine also pleaded guilty to odometer tampering.
As part of his guilty plea, Baine admitted that he purchased high-mileage vehicles from wholesale automobile auctions, dealerships, and individuals, and arranged to alter the vehicles’ odometers to reflect false, lower-mileage readings. Baine admitted that he paid Savarese and others to change or alter odometers at his used car lot in Gulfport. Baine then sold the rolled-back vehicles to unsuspecting consumers for inflated prices. He also admitted that he and a co-conspirator caused at least 387 vehicles to be rolled back between 2011 and 2014, which resulted in consumer losses of more than $600,000. Savarese admitted that he began altering odometers for Mississippi and Louisiana used-car dealers in 2011 and reset the odometers on at least 200 used vehicles for Baine.
“The Department of Justice has long been committed to prosecuting automobile dealers, wholesalers, and mechanics who defraud consumers by selling vehicles with unlawfully altered odometers,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “Vehicle mileage is critical to consumers who rely on that information to evaluate the value and safety of a used vehicle.”
“These criminals not only defrauded hundreds of people but they directly put families and the general public at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst of the Southern District of Mississippi. “We will continue to do all that we can to protect our citizens from fraudsters who endanger others just to make a quick buck.”
Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Jones of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi prosecuted the case. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA), assisted by the State of Mississippi Office of the Attorney General, investigated the case.
NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually. Individuals with information relating to odometer tampering should call NHTSA’s odometer fraud hotline at (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761. More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA website at https://www.nhtsa.gov/odometer-fraud and tips on detecting and avoiding odometer fraud are available at www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nvs/pdf/811284.pdf .
A Rapid Car Check survey has found that 6.49% of vehicles have mileage issues.
In a pool of 1 million, 64,986 were found to have issues, despite members of the European Parliament voting in favour of new legislation to combat mileage clocking in cars in 2018.
The most common clocked vehicles were the Renault Grand Scenic and Renault Scenic, with a fail percentage of 32.66% and 32.14% respectively.
The most common year of vehicle registration was 1998 with a 16.47% fail rate. Vehicle registered in the 1990’s made up six of the top 10, with no vehicles registered after 2003 present.
Overall, rapid check estimates that 2,479,180 vehicles in the UK have mileage issues.
Before passing legislation in 2018, German MEP Ismail Ertug said around 50% of used cars sold inside the EU, and between 30% and 50% of cars sold across borders within the EU, had been clocked.
MEPs called new legislation that included national mileage registers to be made accessible across borders. Car buyers should be able to verify mileage readings regardless of the country it was previously registered.
They also called for carmakers to set clear criteria for checking that odometers are tamper proof.
Barry Shorto, head of industry relations at cap hpi, said at the time: “In Belgium and the Netherlands where readings are collected more frequently than elsewhere, odometer fraud has been almost eradicated.
“We fully support calls for mileage alternation or clocking to be made a criminal offence. Even though clocking has a negative impact on road safety, only six EU countries recognise odometer manipulation as a criminal offence.”
ARLINGTON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles has revoked the licenses for two car dealers with ties to Columbia County.
An investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Dealer and Agent Section found that Best Motors and Manhattan Motors sold vehicles with mileage discrepancies, which is in violation of state law. The dealerships have licenses operated out of Arlington, Wisconsin. The licenses are linked to a business at 101 Skyline Drive in Arlington. Under Wisconsin state law, each licensee must have an office location and Best Motors and Manhattan Motors are registered to this location.
It is possible that these licenses belong to dealerships operated in another state.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Dealer and Agent Section licenses, regulates and resolves disputes about dealerships sales and warranty repairs, as well as educates the motor vehicle industry and public. The group also investigates complaints about odometer tampering involving dealerships and private sellers.
Two Long Beach, Mississippi, men pleaded guilty today for their roles in a long-running odometer tampering scheme, the Department of Justice announced.
Oscar M. Baine, 41, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to alter odometers and one count of odometer tampering. Jeffrey Lyn Savarese II, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to alter odometers. Both defendants appeared in federal court in Gulfport before U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. The court set sentencing hearings for both defendants for Oct. 17.
As part of his plea agreement, Baine admitted that he purchased high-mileage vehicles from wholesale automobile auctions, dealerships, and individuals, and arranged to alter the vehicles’ odometers to reflect false, lower-mileage readings. Baine admitted that he paid Savarese and others to change or alter odometers at his used car lot in Gulfport. Baine then sold the rolled-back vehicles to unsuspecting consumers for inflated prices. Savarese admitted that he began altering odometers for Mississippi and Louisiana used-car dealers in 2011 and reset the odometers on at least 200 used vehicles for Baine.
“The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting auto dealers who defraud consumers by selling vehicles with unlawfully altered odometers,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “Consumers rely on mileage information to assess the value and safety of a vehicle, and that information must be accurate.”
“These criminals put the public at risk by rolling back odometers and defrauding hundreds of people out of one of their biggest investments. I commend the investigators and prosecutors for bringing these criminals to justice and for protecting the public from further fraudulent acts by these two. We will remain vigilant as to these types of crimes and continue working to make our roads and communities safer for everyone,” said Mike Hurst, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.
In pleading guilty, Baine admitted that he and a co-conspirator caused at least 387 vehicles to be rolled back between 2011 and 2014, with resulting consumer losses of more than $600,000. Baine also admitted that, at times, the altered odometers and fraudulent titles included false mileages that were more than 100,000 miles less than the vehicles’ actual mileages.
Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Jones of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi are the prosecutors for the case. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA), assisted by the State of Mississippi Office of the Attorney General, investigated the case.
NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually. Individuals with information relating to odometer tampering should call NHTSA’s odometer fraud hotline at (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761. More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA website at NHTSA.GOV/odometer-fraud and tips on detecting and avoiding odometer fraud are available at NHTSA.GOV/staticfiles.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at Justice.gov. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, visit Justice.gov.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A Lee County deputy who once campaigned for sheriff is on administrative leave, and now his business is under investigation by a state agency.
James Didio ran for Lee County Sheriff in 2016. Fox 4 has learned that a customer of Didio’s used car business, Southwest Florida Motors in Fort Myers, claims that someone rolled back the odometer on a car they bought there.
Last week, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Didio has been placed on administrative leave, but would not say why.
Fox 4 found that a customer complained to the Better Business Bureau in March that a car purchased at Southwest Florida Motors showed an odometer reading of about 107,000 miles. The complaint states that “the car has over 160,000 miles, but shows 107,000 from having the odometer illegally changed.” The customer claims that the discrepancy was discovered by checking oil change records.
In a response to the complaint, Southwest Florida Motors wrote, “The moment I was informed of a possible odometer fraud from years before I ever owned the vehicle, we did a complete AutoCheck Dealer VIN scan. The check came back ‘No odometer fraud found.'”
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is investigating the complaint, but the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will not confirm that is the reason for Didio’s administrative leave..
Didio could not be reached for comment on this story.
A Powhatan County man was convicted Monday for his role in a scheme that rolled back the odometers on more than 50 vehicles, fraudulently boosting the value of each one by as much as $10,000.
Michael Carey Eubank, 52, who owns an automotive electronics repair shop in Powhatan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to alter a motor vehicle odometer and faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Oct. 9 by U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr.
A two-page criminal charge filed June 10 alleged that Eubank’s company website advertised services that included “odometer re-programming or re-setting.” It also stated that, “Mileage proof [is] required, odometer tampering is a federal crime.”
The charge only identified the company as “Company 1.” But Eubank told Gibney on Monday that his company is Advanced Auto Electronics and was formerly located in Midlothian.
From September 2010 to June 2018, Eubank conspired with at least one other person to reset the odometers to false, lower readings. “Individuals brought vehicles, or vehicle instrument clusters containing odometers, to Company 1 and requested that Eubank change the odometers to lower mileage readings,” the government alleged.
The only co-conspirator identified in court papers is Lawson Basnight, 49, of Norfolk, who pleaded guilty to the same charge last year and was sentenced to 18 months behind bars.
Basnight was also ordered to pay more than $403,000 in restitution — the difference in price caused by the false readings plus, in some cases, unexpected repair costs — to more than 50 victims. Basnight admitted running the scam from September 2010 through October 2016.
While the charging document against Eubank referred to multiple odometers, it only cited one specific case: On Feb. 25, 2016, Basnight brought a 2009 Ford F-150 with 165,000 miles on it and Eubank used an electronic tool to reset the odometer to 54,900 miles.
It was unclear Monday if Eubank participated in lowering the odometers of all of the vehicles in Basnight’s scheme and if the same restitution list of victims and losses will be sought in Eubank’s case.
Jacqueline M. Blaesi-Freed, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s consumer protection branch, told Gibney on Monday that the losses were determined by the price Basnight paid for the vehicle and the price ultimately paid by the victims who purchased vehicles at fraudulently inflated prices.
She said that in some cases, unexpected repair bills were added to determine the loss incurred by a victim and in others, where the price difference could not be determined, an average loss figure of $7,868.58 was used — the same average figure used for Basnight.
In Basnight’s case, the false mileage readings on the altered odometers and fraudulent titles were as much as 110,000 miles less than the vehicles’ actual mileage, and Basnight netted as much as $10,000 in profit for each vehicle sold to an unsuspecting buyer.
Basnight found high-mileage vehicles online, at times posing as a used-car dealer or using an alias. When he bought the vehicles, he told the sellers not to fill out the assignment section of the title.
“After defendant Lawson W. Basnight purchased the vehicles, a co-conspirator acting at his direction disconnected, reset, and altered the vehicles’ odometers to reflect inaccurate lower mileage readings,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum concerning Basnight.
In response to questions from Gibney on Monday, Eubank said he altered the odometers for $125 a piece and that Basnight usually just brought the unit and left it at the front counter.
Basnight prepared title applications and other documents, writing in false odometer readings in the assignment section of the title. At times, he used unwitting people to obtain the titles and sell the vehicles to an unidentified “major used car retailer.”
“This was a long-running, well-thought-out scheme that [Basnight] ceased only after being caught by law enforcement,” prosecutors complained.
Prosecutors said the scheme not only led to unexpected repair and maintenance costs to the victims but also jeopardized driver safety.
Eubank, who had no prior criminal record, was allowed to remain free pending his sentencing hearing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 450,000 vehicles are sold each year in the U.S. with false odometer readings, leading to losses of more than $1 billion to consumers.
The NHTSA has established a hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints at (888) 327-4236 (TTY for individuals with hearing impairments: (800) 424-9153).
Original Article: https://www.richmond.com/news/local/crime/owner-of-powhatan-auto-repair-shop-pleads-guilty-in-federal/article_4e258051-c815-5bb6-8744-47f0b6ebb314.html
LITTLETON, Colo. — The U.S. Justice Department calls it “clocking”: intentionally rolling back an odometer to make a vehicle appear less used.
Odometer rollback is “the single most common fraudulent issue in Colorado and nationwide.” That’s a bold statement made by one of this state’s top auto enforcement regulators.
So, based on a tip from one of our viewers, the FOX31 Problem Solvers decided to take a closer look at a business which advertises “odometer correction.”
Odo-Pro is a licensed business registered to the address of a corner house in Littleton.
State records show its owner is Peter Petrov Rains.
He sells parts and auto repair services, mostly through via mail.
Odometer repair and adjustment is permitted in some instances under the federal law. However, “if the mileage on the odometer cannot remain the same as before the service, the odometer must be reset to zero.”
What is not permitted is rolling miles on a vehicle backwards with the intent to defraud.
Here’s part of the federal law which says so:
327.03 A person may not
(2) disconnect, reset, alter, or have disconnected, reset, or altered, an odometer of a motor vehicle intending to change the mileage registered by the odometer;
(3) with intent to defraud..
The FOX31 Problem Solvers tested to see if Odo-Pro would reduce the miles, no questions asked, on one of our old news cars: a 2005 Dodge Durango.
We had a mechanic remove the odometer, which had 195,839 well-documented miles on it.
The FOX31 investigative team then printed off a single-sheet form we found on Odo-Pro’s website. It’s said “Odometer Correction Form” at the top.
We requested our odometer be programmed backwards — rolled back to 150, 839 — a 45,000-mile reduction.
The form required us to acknowledge that “altering the odometer for personal gain is illegal.”
And that “owners have a legal obligation to notify prospective purchasers if the vehicle’s mileage has been altered.”
We mailed our instrument cluster, an $89 cashier’s check from a local convenience store and that form to Odo-Pro in Littleton.
Four days later, our digital odometer came back in a box with “Peter Petrov’s” business card. The mileage was altered per our request: backward 45,000 miles from the original 195,839.
When the Problem Solvers team went to Odo-Pro to ask about its business practices, a man we’d seen working at Odo-Pro answered the door. He said he didn’t speak English. However, FOX31 was able to reach Peter Petrov Rains by phone from the front porch of the business address.
FOX31 asked Rains: “We had some complaints about your Odo-Pro business. That you’re essentially just rolling back odometers.”
Rains responded by telling our reporter, “What we do mainly, uh, we work only with parts. We don’t work on any kind of vehicles. We re-program clusters that have been replaced. So, we do pretty much what dealerships do. Just at a much lower cost.”
When FOX31 asked if he’d like to do an interview to explain how Odo-Pro’s “correction” program works, Rains declined.
While we were standing in front of Odo-Pro, it was hard not to notice the piles of boxes and packets heading to other states via the U.S. Postal Service: Florida, Virginia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, among others.
FOX31 called customers listed on packages, who confirmed some of the boxes indeed contained instrument clusters. None admitted to requesting rollbacks.
Chairman of the Automotive Service Association of Colorado, Brad Pellman, had never heard of Odo-Pro or Peter Rains before FOX31 called.
Pellman was curious how Rains was able to conduct a seemingly vibrant parts-and-services business correcting odometers.
“Until you brought it to my attention, I wasn’t even aware that this was being done by anybody but dealers or some kind of licensed secured facility that had the rights to do it,” Pellman told FOX31 during a recorded interview.
Pellman said that once in a great while, an auto-repair facility might re-set an odometer backwards for a vintage car or some other unique reason, but he says it’s not very common at all.
“Rolling back an odometer is certainly something we don’t even think about doing in our industry,” said Pellman. “The incentive seems to be that it would put less mileage on the odometers for a purpose I would consider fraudulent.”
FOX31 spoke with state and federal authorities who regulate and investigate reported cases of fraudulent odometer rollback services. Although declining on-camera interviews, agents said based on what happened with our TV vehicle’s odometer alone, they have serious questions about Odo-Pro’s business practices.
* FOX31 made certain the Durango — and that odometer — we used for this investigation would not be re-sold except for parts.
(InvestigateTV) – There’s a hidden danger on the roads – one that’s illegal and potentially putting families at risk: rolled-back odometers.
Experts say vehicle odometers are easier than ever to roll back.
“Our research shows there are now 1.6 million cars that are on roads across the country that have an odometer rolled back, and that’s costing consumers millions of dollars,” said Chris Basso, who works with Carfax, a company that provides vehicle history reports.
In a demonstration with Carfax, an odometer on a 2006 Chevy Silverado with 230,323 miles was tampered with in less than 30 seconds. A technician with an inexpensive electronic device was able to erase nearly 100,000 miles of wear, tear and history, leaving the Silverado with 130,483 miles.
Watch the video below to see a demonstration of an odometer rollback and hear how that affects the value of a vehicle.
“You’re simply taking a device that hacks into the car’s computer. You could take 100,000 miles off a car and artificially inflate the value of it by thousands of dollars, and you’re ripping people off,” Basso said.
Those rollbacks can be dangerous and expensive for consumers.
“You’ve got older parts that you think the car has that could break down sooner than you expect,” Basso said. “If that car’s being driven and those parts break down, then not only are the passengers of that vehicle in possible danger, but everyone else on the road too.”