Fraud News Around the Globe

July 26, 2016
New Jersey Used Car Dealership Manager, Employees Plead Guilty in $1.4 Million Auto Loan Scam

The manager of a now-defunct Bergen County, N.J., used car dealership and two co-workers have pleaded guilty in bank financing scams that netted $1.4 million in fraudulent loans for luxury cars, according to announcement by acting Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP).

Hector Marquez, the general manager of D.I.B Leasing in Teterboro, pleaded guilty to first-degree money laundering and second-degree misconduct by a corporate official in a hearing before Superior Court Judge Susan Steele in Bergen County. Marquez also pleaded guilty to second-degree insurance fraud in a separate indictment involving a $139,000 Bentley purchased at his dealership and later torched and reported stolen to an insurance company.

The state has agreed to recommend a sentence not to exceed 16 years in the dealership case. In the insurance fraud case, the state has agreed to recommend a sentence not to exceed seven years, to run concurrent to the first sentence. Marquez’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan 20, 2017.

Marquez is the third defendant to plead guilty in the D.I.B. Leasing case. The dealership’s finance manager, Paul Russo, pleaded guilty to second-degree money laundering and second-degree misconduct by a corporate official.  The state has agreed to recommend a prison term not to exceed 10 years, when Russo is sentenced on September 16. The dealership’s title manager, Lisa Ghobrial, recently pleaded guilty to third-degree misconduct by a corporate official. The state has agreed to recommend a three-year probationary term when she is sentenced on September 16.

The trio, along with a loan applicant assistant, a bookkeeper, and the owner of the dealership, were all charged in connection with the conspiracy. Prosecutors said the defendants created fake employment records, inflated incomes, and supplied false pay stubs and fictitious employee verifications to dupe banks into approving auto financing for customers whose income levels did not qualify them for loans on the pricey vehicles.

Four of the loans were taken out in the names of customers who had submitted personal information to apply for financing but ultimately did not buy cars from the dealership, prosecutors allege. The fifth loan was in the name of a person who had never been to D.I.B. Leasing or applied for a car loan there, prosecutors alleged.

The loan money obtained from the banks was for personal benefit by the various employees of the dealership, prosecutors said.

The remaining defendants have all been indicted on charges of conspiracy and money laundering in the first degree and with a second-degree charge of trafficking in personal identifying information pertaining to another person:

  • Patsy Galasso, owner of D.I.B. Leasing.
  • Jennifer Perez, who assisted with loan applications.
  • Michael Ricciardi, who did bookkeeping for the dealership.

Galasso and Ricciardi are also charged with second-degree identity theft, and 62 counts of theft by deception – two in the second degree and 60 in the third degree. Galasso is also charged with second-degree misconduct by a corporate official.

First degree crimes carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $200,000; second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.

Multiple charges Filed in Alleged Fraudulent Vehicle Theft

Staged vehicle thefts lead to criminal charges, according to Aviva Canada.

On December 10, 2015, Mark Haselden reported to police that his Ford F150 truck, insured by Aviva Canada, was stolen. He made two claims to Aviva Canada; one for the loss of his vehicle and another for its contents including a high-end stereo system, GPS, clothing and tools. When the police recovered the vehicle eight days later, the interior had been vandalized beyond repair, the contents were missing and a broken off key was found in the ignition. The exterior showed no signs of forced entry.

During the course of Aviva Canada’s investigation into Haselden’s claims, it was revealed that he knowingly provided false and misleading information, including lying under oath on two occasions. As a result, Aviva Canada denied the claims for the loss of the vehicle and its contents.

Aviva Canada presented their findings to the Durham Regional Police Service and compiled information and evidence requested by the investigating officer. The Durham Regional Police Service charged Haselden with four counts: fraud over $5,000; fraud under $5,000; public mischief and, perjury.

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