US charges 25 people in $4.5 million classic car scam ring

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The U.S. Attorney's office has charged 25 people for their alleged involvement in a classic car scam that stole $4.5 million from victims. | Pixabay photo
The U.S. Attorney's office has charged 25 people for their alleged involvement in a classic car scam that stole $4.5 million from victims. | Pixabay photo

The United States Attorney’s Office charged 25 people last week in connection with a classic car scam ring that allegedly swindled millions of dollars from victims.

“Trusting that they were conducting legitimate business with automotive dealers, these victims lost over $4 million as a result of this scheme,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a news release.

The attorney’s office said the scammers allegedly posed as legitimate classic dealers or collectors between November 2016 and July 2018 and would list a fake car on well-known auction and trading websites.

Once a deal was made for the price of the car, the scammers would tell the victims to contact faux shipping companies who could accept payment for the vehicle and coordinate its delivery.

The companies were allegedly shell corporations created by the scammers.

The scammers would then withdraw the funds from the shell companies. The attorney’s office said the transactions were made in varying denominations from different accounts in an attempt to prevent financial institutions from detecting the fraud.

“While allegedly operating under this façade, the defendants were diligent in the theft of the funds, but showed no regard to the financial impact on the victims,” Sweeney said.

The money was sent to countries in Eastern Europe, where many of the scammers originated.

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Fourteen of the scammers living in New York City were arrested. One was arrested in Miami and another was already in custody on state charges in Florida. Two more were arrested on state charges in Michigan.

Authorities were still seeking seven others – Kirill Dedusev, Roman Eliozashvili, Stanislav Lisitskiy, Aleksei Livadnyi, Mikhail Morozov, Aleksandr Starikov and Nikolay Tupikin.  Most of those still at large live in either Los Angeles or Brooklyn. Morozov, 29, and Starikov, 34, live in Russia.

Each alleged scammer will be charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The former charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while the latter could lead to 20 years behind bars.

Anyone who feels they were a victim of this scam should call the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York at (866) 874-8900.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

13 COMMENTS

  1. A few years back I helped shut down a scammer like this operating out of Canada. At the time he was being investigated, he continued to list cars for sale under his girlfriends name. Just three weeks ago I had a guy forward a listing for a "super deal" on another car. He asked me to check it for him. Yep, another scam. This one was difficult to get much info from, but I tried a few things to see if I could get enough to snag him, but nope… Best you can do is warn others on forums that deal with the same car that you suspect a scam. If you can post a picture of the "car for sale" someone may recognize it and then you have some small evidence to share with anyone that will give legal help. Usually it ends there and the bad guys disappear.

    • Several years ago I was looking for a car like my first car a1967 Chevy Biscayne with a 396 4 sp. This car was perfect and he only wanted $12000 for it. But he was so push push push And he said he worked in Florida but wanted the money sent to a bank in New York I just never felt at ease with this deal. I loved the price and the car but just something said that it’s not not right

    • Well, I’m very lucky I just purchased a 1979 Cutlass Supreme Oldsmobile from Classic Cars.com and I was worried at first about the money transfer but they did deliver the car to me from Iowa to Colorado Springs.

    • Ding, ding, ding, ding……….All you need to do is read the names and know it’s fraud.
      Buyer beware but ‘nuff said!

  2. I was scammed by this ring of thieves I still wonder how to get crime compensation. I lost 12000 cdn to these jerks. I need help can anyone advise how to to recover my funds? I hired intelligence to nail these crooks. My crime was committed in USA but it appears no one gives a damn because it is not within their jurisdiction. I went to RCMP who did very little the Canadian antifraud agency just collects information. The fraudulent ads currently is selling my car I purchased on oodlecars.com. I have reported this ad to authorities. Google oodlecars.com 1965 cyclone for 8000 USD. ITS A SCAM.I HAVE WARNED COMET GROUP members not to become victimized. LAMARR Krauss Cranbrook BC

    • The who to contact is clearly given at end of article…simple phone call.
      To a law enforcement agency your "investigators" certainly should have been in contact with too

      And no idea what you expect to collect as victims compensation from a group of foreigners…who have most certainly moved or spent the money so it cant be recovered. It sounds like you believe there is a process to get paid by others for being duped….

      • Geoff…. your response to Lamar didn’t need all the sarcasm. After all the guy’s a victim of highly organized thieves. Plus, do you know if BC has any type of victim restitution laws? You might also want to check out the following for victims here in the United States…. Crime victim compensation was the first type of organized victim assistance in the United States. The earliest compensation program was created in 1965 in California, and nine states were operating such programs by 1972, when the earliest programs providing other types of direct victim assistance were established. Today, compensation programs across the country are paying out close to $500 million annually to more than 200,000 victims. Fittingly, most of this money comes from offenders rather than tax dollars, since a large majority of states fund their programs entirely through fees and fines charged against those convicted of crime. Federal grants to compensation programs, providing about 35% of the money for payments to victims, also come solely from offender fines and assessments.

  3. What a sad story. It breaks my heart knowing so many people lost all that money. I truly appreciate your attention to inform honest car collectors….like myself . It’s a shame. I hope
    all those arrested and found guilty are given the maximum sentence.

  4. Heres what to ask for #1 copy of title #2 ID from seller #3 picture of VIN number call the DMV in the state the car title is in don’t even believe the title sent isn’t fake also we hire a private eye ( very cheap ) to just verify the car is real GOOGLE the VIN number you will find a lot of info and NEVER SEND money without the above PERIOD

    • I was shopping for a Z8. Nice ad on cars.com. Contacted the seller and was told he had been transferred from Houston to London and couldn’t justify shipping the car. I asked if a friend could look at the car and he said it was in a controlled warehouse by NADA Guides. I looked at their web site and found no mention of a move into managing car transfers, then I called them and was assured that all they did was publish price guides. I knew the deal was phony and contacted cars.com. They had the ad off their web site in minutes. No one should get swindled by these people. They aren’t that smart.

  5. Ive seen several ads by these jerks, and almost fell for them, then a little voice said why would anyone sell a perfect concourse car for less than 30%of its value….then when I said I’ll bring CASH to buy it, and they had an excuse why cash wouldn’t work… cmon. I don’t care what the situation is, cash always works…..and when it doesn’t, look out. Did I say hanging too good for these jerks?

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