A $4.5M Classic Car Scheme Leads To 25 Charges By FBI. As classic cars become investment pieces, buyers should always be on high alert. It’s much easier for criminals to scam potential buyers out of a sale due to the Internet. Many collector car buyers found that out the hard way over the past two years.
The United States Attorney’s Office charged 25 people last week in connection with a classic car scam ring where millions of dollars were stolen from victims. The suspects received money from potential buyers, while listing fake cars for sale, then wiring money overseas.
“Trusting that they were conducting legitimate business with automotive dealers, these victims lost over $4 million as a result of this scheme,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a news release.
The attorney’s office said the scammers posed as legitimate classic car or collector car dealers between November 2016 and July 2018. Then they would list a fake car on well-known auction and marketplace websites.
After a deal was made, the scammers would tell the victims to call fake shipping companies who could accept payment for the vehicle and coordinate its delivery.
The companies were allegedly shell corporations created by the scammers.
The scammers would then withdraw the funds from the shell companies. The attorney’s office said the transactions were made in varying denominations from different accounts in an attempt to prevent financial institutions from detecting the fraud.
“While allegedly operating under this façade, the defendants were diligent in the theft of the funds, but showed no regard to the financial impact on the victims,” Sweeney said.
The money was sent to Eastern Europe, where many of the scammers lived.
Fourteen of the scammers living in New York City were arrested. One was arrested in Miami and another was already in custody on state charges in Florida. Two more were arrested on state charges in Michigan.
Authorities were still trying to find seven others. Their names are Kirill Dedusev, Roman Eliozashvili, Stanislav Lisitskiy, Aleksei Livadnyi, Mikhail Morozov, Aleksandr Starikov and Nikolay Tupikin. The ones still at large live in either hiding in Los Angeles or Brooklyn. Morozov, 29, and Starikov, 34, live in Russia.
Each alleged scammer will be charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The former charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while the latter could lead to 20 years behind bars.
Anyone who feels they were a victim of this scam should call the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York at (866) 874-8900.Categories: Auto News, Blog