A Rockland County man has been arraigned on a charge alleging that he went through elaborate steps to use a 10-year-old child’s identity in an attempt to steal cars from a Westchester dealership.
Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. announced on Monday that 26-year-old Nanuet resident Andre Mendez has been arraigned in Greenburgh Town Court on a charge of third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a felony.
According to Scarpino, Mendez is alleged to have 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.
Scarpino said that investigators believe 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, 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 and led to his arrest last week 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 pleaded not guilty to the criminal possession of stolen property charge. He also has the pending driving while intoxicated case in Yonkers. Bail has been set at $50,000 cash or bond. Mendez is due back in court on Tuesday, Sept. 12, where he will face a maximum of seven years in state prison. The other charges are pending.
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