Auto dealerships in 5 states, including Pa., victimized by identity theft scheme

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey authorities have charged nine people with using stolen identities to obtain digital driver’s licenses that they used to fraudulently purchase and finance motor vehicles and water crafts worth more than $1.3 million in five states.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Thursday that dealerships in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts were victimized, as were numerous individuals from Puerto Rico.

He said the defendants obtained New Jersey digital driver’s licenses from the Jersey City and North Bergen motor vehicle offices using the stolen identities of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico and fake Puerto Rico driver’s licenses, along with other false documents.

From February 2017 through December 2018, Grewal said, they fraudulently purchased, financed, titled or transferred 26 motor vehicles and three water crafts with trailers using credit of the victims in Puerto Rico. Ten vehicles were recovered in the U.S., but it is believed the others were shipped overseas, including seven known to have been shipped to the Dominican Republic.

The Motor Vehicle Commission alerted the Attorney General’s Office after discovering that the Puerto Rico driver’s licenses used by the defendants to obtain New Jersey digital driver’s licenses were fraudulent.

Grewal added that federal law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and other states have uncovered the same or similar criminal activity, and are pursuing charges against several of the defendants recently arrested, as well as additional defendants.

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