Pennsylvania Car Dealership Employees Face Criminal Charges For Title Washing
Title washing is not the only way, or even the most common way, that used car dealerships can defraud customers. Consumers can file used car fraud claims if, for example, the dealer misled them about the car’s history of collisions or repairs, or if they advertised one car to them online or by phone but then showed them another vehicle once they arrived at the dealership, telling them that the original car is no longer available. Employees and owners of car dealerships can face charges for fraud crimes if buyers can prove that false statements by the car dealership employees caused the buyers to incur preventable financial losses. This month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that the state is filing criminal charges against people associated with 13 car dealerships throughout the state, who allegedly participated in a large-scale title washing operation. If you are facing criminal charges related to fraudulent activity at your job, contact a Pittsburgh white collar crime lawyer.
Title Washing Involves a Complex Series of Fraudulent Actions
Title washing involves affixing a fake VIN number to a car, creating a falsified title to go with it, and then reselling the car under the pretense that the VIN is the car’s original VIN and the title is genuine. Some of the cars in title washing schemes have been stolen; title washing enables the title washers to resell the cars without the original owners of the cars, or law enforcement, to find out the true original identity of the cars. In other cases, the cars have been totaled, and title washing conspirators buy them, but instead of selling the usable parts of the totaled car piecemeal, the conspirators fix up the car, attach a new VIN number to it, and proceed with the title washing process in the same way that they would for stolen cars.
In the News
According to the Attorney General’s website, Pennsylvania is prosecuting 19 individuals associated with 13 car dealerships that allegedly participated in a title washing scheme. George Frietto, the owner of George’s Garage in Scranton, allegedly issued fraudulent inspection certificates. Over the course of ten days in 2020, his garage allegedly completed over 240 fraudulent inspections. Prosecutors allege that the employees of George’s Garage never saw most of the cars before certifying that these vehicles were roadworthy; in some cases, the cars never even set wheels in Pennsylvania. Many of the vehicles have serious damage that makes them unsafe to drive, unbeknownst to buyers. The charges that the 19 defendants face include corrupt organization, deceptive business practices, forgery, washing of vehicle titles, commercial bribery, and insurance fraud among others. The defendants are connected to dealerships in Scranton, York, Exeter, Old Forge, Lebanon, Pocono, Lehighton, Taylor, and Dover.
Contact Gary E. Gerson About Car Fraud Cases
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges related to making false statements about the condition of a motor vehicle. Contact the law offices of Gary E. Gerson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about your case.