CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office has handed down charges against 17 people in an elaborate crime ring stretching along the East Coast.
The scam starts in the south with thieves stealing cars in one of three ways:
- Stealing cars from residents
- Stealing vehicles from car rental companies
- Using third parties that are hard up for cash to lease vehicles with no intent of returning the cars to the dealership
The stolen cars then have their Vehicle Identification Numbers altered to avoid detection.
“These are all high-priced cars,” Assistant Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Berghausen said. “These are Range Rovers, Mercedes, Audi’s -- these are expensive cars, they’re worth a lot.”
The thieves then create a fraudulent vehicle title using stolen documents from the state of Georgia.
“Somewhere along the way they obtained this stolen, this box of stolen Georgia titles,” Berghausen said. “Real Georgia titles, blank, stolen out of a real Georgia BMV or Clerk of Courts Office.”
Those titles and cars then drive north into Hamilton County where they are taken to Ohio BMV locations to get the titles transferred to Ohio. The defendants in this case bring in the real Georgia titles containing real control numbers and fictional VIN information which are exchanged for 100 percent authentic Ohio vehicle titles.
“By bringing them here to Ohio and then basically running this title scheme, using this stolen GA title paper, they’re able to wash the history of the car away,” Berghausen said. “They’re basically creating a new title for this car out of thin air.”
The new paperwork allows thieves to cash in on the stolen car without suspicion. The ring of thieves made money by either selling the cars or by insuring the vehicles and staging accidents. Vehicle’s were sold in several different states.
The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office has charged the following people with F-3 tampering with records: Phyllis Copeland, Andrea Edwards, Janet Fisher, Paul Lawrence Glover, Denise Linnen, Rakhel Israele, Kelvin E Long, Sarah Markovich, Ezell Napier, Tracy Robinson, Holly Lynn Smith, Holly Swope, Danny Tony Sorrells, Kishia Quiana Starr, Sharlette D Tolliver, Eric T Washington and Roberto Ransom Williams Sr.