The theft and illegal use of identities is no longer a novel crime. Many people are arrested each day for attempting to use a stolen identity to steal money, buy a car or boat or take an expensive trip. One of the few remaining novel uses of stolen identities is their use by a number of people over a significant period of time to fraudulently purchase high ticket items such as cards and boats. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office recently announced the arrest of nine suspects who are accused of using stolen identities in a multi-state multi-year plot to defraud automobile dealerships in several northeastern states.
The Attorney General alleged that the nine defendants who have been arrested obtained digital drivers’ licenses from the state of New Jersey using the stolen identities of persons in Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico drivers’ licenses. Other false documents were also used to obtain the drivers licenses. According to the Attorney General, the suspects used the New Jersey drivers’ licenses between the years of 2017 and 2018 to purchase, finance or transfer title to 26 motor vehicles and three water craft. The credit used to make these purchases was stolen from individuals in Puerto Rico. The total value of the assets involved in the plot is believed to be $1.3 million.
The scheme was discovered by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission when it learned that the New Jersey drivers’ licenses were fraudulent. Federal law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and other states are believed to have uncovered evidence of similar criminal activity and are investigating the possibility of filing charges against several of the original nine suspects.
The nine suspects have been charged, but newspaper reports of their activities did not state whether they have been arraigned or whether bail has been set. These individuals are, of course, presumed innocent unless and until they have been convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone facing similar charges may benefit from consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney for an evaluation of the evidence and the strength of the prosecutor’s case. A knowledgeable defense lawyer can also suggest possible defenses, assist in negotiating a favorable plea agreement or, if necessary, make any required court appearances.