7 arrested in East Valley for selling fake vehicle titles, dealer licenses
PHOENIX – Seven people in the East Valley were arrested Feb. 19 on accusations of taking part in an illegal curbstone operation that made $7 million off illegally produced fake vehicle titles and wholesale and retail dealer licenses, the Arizona Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.
The suspects allegedly cosigned licenses to people in other states, which helped the customers avoid taxes, registration fees and dealer laws, ADOT said in a press release.
ADOT did not specify the length of time the operation was in place, referring to it as “the past couple of years.”
More than 31,000 fraudulent vehicle titles, priced at about $100 apiece, were sold in 42 states. Many of the vehicles attached to the titles were never in Arizona.
Using fake dealer licenses sold by the scheme, about 1,500 people were able to participate in wholesale auctions and avoid paying the state a monthly fee that is typically in the hundreds of dollars.
Police raided a storefront in Mesa and homes in Chandler and Gilbert.
Suspects face charges including felonies of fraudulent schemes and artifices, money laundering and tax evasion.
This operation is the largest that has been broken up since the 2018 Arizona Curbstone Enforcement Joint Task Force went into effect, according to ADOT.