Scammers target Central Texas car dealerships using stolen identities

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Several dealerships in Waco and central Texas have been hit by groups of scam artists who steal the identities of people with good credit in order to drive off expensive cars and trucks.

“It’s kind of a clever way to scam new-vehicle dealerships,” McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said.

“We think there’s a big network in Houston doing this, and they’re also connected to people in other places, like Dallas.”

McNamara said his Criminal Investigations Division (CID) was working with Waco Police Department detectives after three Waco car dealerships were recently targeted by robbers.

“The names on the documents are real people, and they have no idea these thugs are using their identification and name to buy these vehicles, McNamara said.

From mid-December to mid-January, Autonation Chevrolet, Waco Mitsubishi and Gray May Honda were victimized by scam artists resulting in the theft or attempted theft of vehicles worth nearly $500,000 . Autonation was targeted five times, Mitsubishi was hit once and Gray May was targeted twice, investigators said.

Six of the eight scams were successful, authorities said, and the other two were thwarted once authorities got involved.

“It’s happened to a lot of different dealerships here in Waco, and I also know it’s happened in the Temple area, Belton as well,” said Kyle Binner, general manager of Greg May.

The dealers say the thieves don’t use fake IDs or fake information: they pretend to be real people with good credit.

“Their driver’s license number matched, their social security number matched, they used their real address, everything,” Binner said.

“A lot of times they use a different address because they don’t want mail from banks or lenders to go to the real customer, and in this case they didn’t, and that’s how we got discovered – one of us contacted after receiving a letter from the lender saying she had requested the purchase of a 2019 Lincoln Navigator, which she did not.

So far, a suspect has been arrested after being lured to Waco by authorities to purchase not one, but two vehicles from different dealerships.

McNamara said the suspect brought “buddies” with him to help drive the vehicles.

“When he arrived, our detectives pounced on him, captured him, put him in jail on multiple counts,” McNamara said.

Jason Robinson, 39, has been charged with identity theft and motor vehicle theft.

He was jailed at McLennan County Jail on January 14, but has since been released after posting bond.

Authorities are now working to track down his accomplices, along with another group, and charge them all with organized crime.

They think there are eight to twelve people, between two rings, involved.

“We’re trying to get all dealers to use every precaution possible, and hopefully we can catch some more of these monsters and throw the book at them,” McNamara said.

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