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Former auto dealers arrested for fraud

September 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former managers of an Orange County car dealership have been arrested for fraud. Prosecutors say they inflated Blue Book prices to rip off unsuspecting buyers.Frank Urbano, 54, was taken into custody on Wednesday. The Anaheim man was a former part owner and general manager of what used to be called "Douglas Nissan" in Orange.

"The defendants are accused of submitting false loan information to cheat lenders and defraud vulnerable customers by securing unaffordable loans in the customer's name," said Tony Rackauckas, Orange County District Attorney.

Three former desk managers were also arrested. Luz Corral, 26, Kevin Derosier, 28, and Marwan Abdellatif, 46 are accused of inflating the prices of used cars by falsely telling lenders that the vehicles had upgrades, such as leather interiors and moon roofs. Those higher prices meant a higher profit.

Investigators examined hundreds of boxes of paperwork seized during a 2007 raid of the dealership. They found more than 30 fraudulent transactions between 2005 and 2007.

Authorities allege the defendants targeted mainly Spanish-speaking customers without proper identification. The victims also allegedly did not understand what was involved in buying a car.

"In many cases, the victims could not afford the payment on the higher loans and they lost their cars," said Rackaukas.

Authorities allege the defendants defrauded several banks and lenders out of more than $900,000 in financing.

The case began after police received complaints of identity theft.

"There was stacks of credit applications from past customers and it's our belief they just maintained those customer applications that had a good credit score so they could be used as needed," said Prosecutor Doug Brannan.

Investigators suspect the defendants used stolen IDs if customers didn't have sufficient credit to get a loan. In some cases, defendants allegedly created fake pay stubs to increase a customer's income so they could qualify for a bigger loan.

The District Attorney is calling it the largest fraud case against a car dealership in Orange County's history.

The four defendants are each being held on $100,000 bail. They are expected to make their first court appearance on Friday.

 

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