A 27-year-old man is going to spend time behind bars and must pay back thousands of dollars to several Westchester auto dealerships after taking elaborate steps to use a 10-year-old child’s identity to steal cars.
Nanuet resident Andre Mendez has been sentenced in Westchester County Court after pleading guilty to identity theft and falsifying business records, both felonies. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and two counts of driving while intoxicated following incidents dating back to last year.
Mendez created a synthetic identity using his actual name and date of birth along with the Social Security number of an unsuspecting 10-year-old child. He proceeded to open bank accounts to establish credit with that identity.
Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. said that investigators found that Mendez was able to use the child’s Social Security number because banks and credit agencies had no record for the number, and therefore was unaware that it identified a child.
Once the accounts were established, Scarpino said that Mendez leased and financed motor vehicles using that synthetic identity, which could now sustain a credit check. In February last year, he financed a Toyota Camry from Westchester Toyota in Yonkers, giving the child’s social security number as his own. The following day he leased a Honda Accord in White Plains using the same identity.
Mendez made no payments toward either of the vehicles and had been driving both cars even though his license is revoked and the insurance has lapsed.
The investigation into Mendez began in May last year and led to his arrest in August as he left the Town of Greenburgh Court, where he was answering charges of aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and aggravated driving while intoxicated dating back to a case in March. Mendez allegedly drove to court in the stolen Toyota, and the Honda was later recovered at an auto body shop in the Bronx.
Mendez was arrested on Sept. 8 last year and has since been detained. On the charge of identity theft, Mendez will serve one year in county jail and must repay $14,551.73 in restitution to Honda and $16,781.18 to Toyota for the theft of vehicles.
On the second count, he will serve one year in county jail to run concurrently. On the three vehicular charges, Mendez will serve one year each in county jail to run concurrently with each other, but consecutively to the other sentence. Mendez will also face fines for each count, will lose his license for six months, and will have to install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle.
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