A pair of men have admitted to their roles in a “complex identity fraud scheme” that allowed them to fraudulently “purchase” and possess high-end vehicles from car dealerships throughout Westchester.
Bronx residents Jankley Hidalgo, 29 and Jonathan Sevilla, 34, pleaded guilty to one count each of first-degree identity theft, felonies, for the theft of a Lexus from Ray Catena Lexus of Larchmont in Mamaroneck, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. announced on Friday.
Additionally, Sevilla pleaded guilty to a second count of identity theft for an attempted theft from "Rivera Toyota" in Mount Kisco earlier this year. Both men have also admitted to other thefts from vehicles at other locations in Westchester, for which they will pay restitution.
According to Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr., Hidalgo supplied others involved in the scheme with forged driver’s licenses and his victims’ personal identifying information, which included social security numbers, to present themselves as legitimate buyers who wanted financing for expensive vehicles.
Sevilla was one of the individuals that went into the dealerships to “purchase” these vehicles. In Mamaroneck, Hidalgo drove Sevilla to the dealership Oct. 20 last year, where he presented himself using the victim’s identity, made a deal to finance a vehicle, and drove the vehicle off the lot without paying for it. The car was valued at $86,741.
The fraudsters stole five cars from different Westchester County dealerships, from October last year through February of this year. In addition to the stolen Lexus, the ring stole vehicles from Land Rover of New Rochelle, Rivera Toyota in Mount Kisco, the Croton AutoPark and a Mercedes Benz S500 from Goldens Bridge.
In each of those instances, Hidalgo was involved. Sevilla was only a part of stealing the Lexus and Mercedes. In total, it is estimated that the stolen cars carry a value of between $500,000 and $1 million.
Scarpino said that a search warrant of Hidalgo’s home in the Bronx recovered smartphones and a number of electronic devices, some storing victims’ identifying information, and a credit card reader, which was used to create forged credit cards. In Sevilla’s Bronx home, detectives found more than a dozen cell phones, SIM phone cards and memory cards.
According to Scarpino, they found evidence during the investigation that the stolen vehicles were expected to be exported to Africa for resale. Some of the stolen cars were found and recovered before being placed in shipping containers.
Sevilla and Hidalgo are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 21, when they will face up to six years in prison and will have judgments against them in the amounts owed to the victimized dealerships.
“Identity theft is a crime which can affect many victims and industries, as this scheme shows. We are very proud of this multi-agency investigation which has led to these arrests, and thank, in particular, the Westchester County Police for their work in this case,” Scarpino said in a statement at the time of their arrests. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners as this case unfolds.”
“We worked in collaboration with the Westchester District Attorney’s Office to connect our case in Mount Kisco to the similar incidents that occurred elsewhere in the county,” Chief Inspector John Hodges, the commanding officer of the Westchester County Police Detective Division added. “The teamwork among all agencies involved in the broader investigation made it possible to successfully identify and arrest several suspects who were committing identity theft and large-scale financial fraud in our communities.”
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