How ‘prolific con artists’ scammed MVC and banks by selling cars, NJ prosecutors say
Five North Jersey residents, including a brother and sister, are facing charges for their roles in a scheme that the state Attorney General's Office says was aimed at manipulating the deeds to cars in order to sell them for profit.
Attorney General Christopher Porrino said the five defendants were involved in a scheme from June 2012 until March 2016 that started with them or their associates buying cars on credit. They would then create letters claiming to be from the creditors saying that the loans had been paid off in order to get new titles from the Motor Vehicle Commission. The cars would then be sold with the bogus clean titles without the new owners knowing the cars had not been paid off.
Over the course of just under four years, Porrino said the five were involved in the sale of at least 25 vehicles.
The defendants are David L. Dunaway, 42; Paige E. Hunt, 26, of Bloomfield; James Lamont Tutt, 43, of Somerset; Shanel Terry, 35, of Somerset; and David Terry, 34, of Newark. Porrino said Shanel Terry is David Terry's sister and Tutt's girlfriend.
Porrino said the five had three methods they would use to get the cars involved.
Dunaway, Hunt, or David Terry would buy a car with a fraudulent car loan that they got with falsified employment and salary information.
They would also use a stolen identity to get a car loan.
The third method involved women being fooled into buying Dunaway a car in their names, including paying the car loan until they were led to believe the loan had been paid off. They would then either give the car to one of the other defendants or the car was sold with the defendants keeping the money.
Porrino said some of the cars involved were bought from a former dealership in Rahway where Porrino worked as a salesman.
"The five lead defendants in this case allegedly were prolific con artists who managed to steal loan proceeds and cars worth well over a half million dollars in the span of just a few years," Porrino said.
"Those who fraudulently obtain titles and other official documents from the MVC frequently are involved in identity theft and other criminal activity, such as the elaborate conspiracy charged in this case."
All five defendants were indicted on charges of first-degree conspiracy, first-degree money laundering, second-degree identity theft, four counts of second degree theft by deception, one count of third-degree theft by deception, as well as third-degree tampering with public records, and fourth-degree forgery.
In addition to the main defendants, Porrino said three other people are facing third-degree charges. Caprice L. Simmons, 27, of Rahway, and Raheem A. Reason, 30, of Newark, were charged with third-degree theft by deception and third-degree tampering with public records. Porrino said the pair are charged with having given false employment and income information to buy a 2013 BMW 650 from Tutt. Porrino said when the pair struggled to make car payments they helped Tutt to draft false documents to clear the title.
A third person, Robert Rivera, 22, of Newark, has been charged third-degree theft by deception after a car one of the women had bought was signed over to him. Porrino said he then worked with Dunaway to sell the car.
The first-degree crimes carry a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years and a fine of $200,000. The first-degree money laundering charge carries a fine of up to $500,000 and an anti-money laundering profiteering penalty of up to $500,000 or three times the value of any property involved.
The second-degree charges carry a prison sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, and the third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com