CARS

2 charged in identity fraud scheme affecting 6 New York car dealerships

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Two men are accused of taking part in an elaborate identity fraud scheme that permitted them to purchase five high-priced vehicles from different dealerships about 40-50 miles north of New York City.

The suspects, Jankely Hidalgo, 29, and Jonathan Sevilla, 34, were taken into custody after failing to fraudulently purchase a vehicle with a forged Connecticut driver’s license at Lexus of Mount Kisco, N.Y., a spokeswoman in the Westchester County District’s Attorney Office said.

Other arrests are pending and the investigation stems from a federal investigation in “multiple states” that involves the Department of Homeland Security, the spokeswoman said. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had a “limited role” in the case, a department spokesman said in an email to Automotive News.

Hidalgo and Sevilla were arraigned last week on charges of identity theft in the first degree and grand larceny in the second degree for stealing a Lexus from Ray Catena Lexus of Larchmont, N.Y., according to a statement by Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino. They entered not guilty pleas. The two men are scheduled to be charged in Mount Kisco next week for the failed attempt, and in other jurisdictions.

The size of the suspected fraud ring and the scope of the investigation are still unclear.

Hidalgo, the driver, provided fictitious driver’s licenses and stolen personal information, including Social Security numbers, to Sevilla and other mules in the ring to pose as buyers looking to finance a vehicle, according to the statement from the office.

On Oct. 20, 2017, Hidalgo drove Sevilla to the Ray Catena store, where Sevilla used a stolen identity and formulated a deal to finance a Lexus vehicle valued at $86,741, the release said, and drove the vehicle off the lot without paying for it.

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