The owner of an Orange County, Calif.-based Nissan dealership and three employees were arrested on Sept. 24 on charges of defrauding customers and banks in a scheme that involved inflating the sales prices of automobiles, according to the Orange County Register.
The employees of Douglas Nissan in Orange were accused of selling used cars at inflated Kelley Blue Book values by telling lenders that the vehicles had upgrades, said Doug Brannan, a senior deputy district attorney who is prosecuting the case.
The phantom upgrades, which included leather interiors, DVD players, navigation systems and premium wheels, were used to defraud customers and banks into believing the inflated price of the car and loan amount. Banks issued auto loans worth a total of $911,502 in 31 transactions. The Kelley Blue Book values of those 31 vehicles were falsely inflated by a total of $234,470, Brannan said.
Banks and lenders defrauded in the scheme included Americredit Financial Services, Bank of America, Capital One Auto Finance, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., NuVision Federal Credit Union, Wachovia Financial Services, Wells Fargo Bank and Wescom Credit Union, prosecutors said.
The fraud scheme targeted Spanish-speaking customers, especially those without proper identification, Brannan said. In some cases employees were accused of stealing identities to help customers with insufficient credit qualify for a loan. Employees were also accused of inflating a customer’s income to qualify for a loan.
The four defendants arrested were Frank Ignacio Urbano, 54, of Anaheim, a former part owner and general manager of the dealership; and former sales managers Luz Belem Corral, 26, of Costa Mesa; Kevin Allen DeRosier, 28, of Anaheim; and Marwan Abdellatif, 46, of Lakewood, prosecutors said.
Arrests of the four defendants came just over a year after investigators from the Orange County District Attorney's Office and the Orange Police Department raided the dealership and carted away hundreds of boxes of paperwork and two computers in July 2007.
The Nissan dealership has changed ownership since last year's raid, Brannan said. It is now called Stadium Nissan.
Authorities charged the four defendants with 77 felonies. They each face a maximum sentence of 37 years and four months in state prison if convicted on all counts. Each defendant was held in lieu of $100,000 bail.