Car theft ring used fake IDs to finance cars at dealerships across Illinois
Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced charges against a half-dozen defendants who allegedly made off with luxury cars from suburban dealers.
A multistate car theft ring based in Chicago “stole” cars off the lots of luxury dealers by using bogus identification to set up financing for high-end cars, Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced Tuesday at a news conference with prosecutors from Cook and DuPage counties.
Six people will face charges including fraud, identity theft, forgery and aggravated possession of a motor vehicle in connection with the theft of more than a dozen cars—including cars stolen from Lexus and Porsche dealers — in a scheme that began at least as far back as last fall, Raoul and DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said at a news conference at the DuPage County government complex in Wheaton.
Though he said the charges came after a yearlong investigation, Raoul said the case was made as part of the Organized Retail Crime Task Force he announced two weeks ago, a collaboration among law enforcement agencies and prosecutors across the state that targets coordinated criminal networks that steal and fence stolen goods.
Charging documents indicate that the group used fake identities, as well as identity information belonging to a minors and dead people, to secure the car loans. Among the vehicles fraudulently purchased were a 2014 Jeep Cherokee, 2014 Lexus LS 460, a 2008 Jeep Wrangler, a 2010 Porsche Panamera, and a 2017 Audi Q7.
Alleged ringleaders Anthony “Tony Sosa” Brown, 40, of Lansing, and Sierra Wells, 27, of Orland Park, were charged in Cook County. Both face counts of identity theft, aggravated possession of a motor vehicle, organizing a continuing a continuing financial crimes enterprise, financial institution fraud, forgery and theft by deception. If convicted on all charges, the pair face a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
Four co-defendants face lesser charges in DuPage County cases that carry sentences of up to 15 years: Kevin Bandy, 48; DeAngelo Hackney, 30; James Krout, 47; and Zebedee Moore, 48. The investigation is ongoing.
The scheme relied on using stolen identities to secure credit at the dealerships, as well as identities that were entirely fabricated, Raoul said. Wells allegedly obtained the identification information, and Brown recruited people to act as bogus buyers.
It was not clear how many of the cars were recovered, but a news release from the attorney general’s office said dealers and banks suffered $100,000 in damages —roughly the sticker price of a 2021 Porsche Carrera. Among the dealers mentioned in the charges unveiled Tuesday was Napleton Westmont Porsche, Lucky Motors, McGrath Lexus and Bill Jacobs Volkswagen. In their remarks Tuesday, Raoul and Berlin thanked police departments from Barrington to Bloomington for their assistance with the investigation.
The “sophisticated” scam would have been difficult for dealers to identify in time to stop it, said David Sloan, president of the Chicago Auto Trade Association.
“It’s pretty hard for an office manager in a dealership or a finance manager to determine some of these things, so it’s great to hear this is being prosecuted this way,” he said.