You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cupertino Couple Indicted In Multi-Million Dollar Scheme To Export Stolen Luxury Cars To Asia

SAN JOSE – A federal indictment was unsealed today charging Yujen Chen and Maria Chen, husband and wife, with twenty-four felony violations, including wire fraud, international money laundering, exportation of stolen vehicles, and identity theft, arising out of their ownership of 888 Auto Corporation, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag.

According to the indictment, Yujen Chen, 58, and Maria Chen, 56, of Cupertino, are alleged to have used their automotive business to fraudulently lease luxury vehicles, including vehicles from Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and Toyota, and then to export those vehicles abroad. As part of the scheme, the Chens recruited friends and associates to serve as straw lessees, and sometimes paid them $500 to lease cars on their behalf. Subsequently, the Chens took custody of the cars, and promised the straw lessees they would make the car payments. Instead, the Chens exported the cars, and never paid off the lease obligations. The Chens also used without permission the identities of others to lease cars.

The Chens acted as vehicle brokers, and received money from people to purchase vehicles on their behalf. However, instead of paying the dealers the money received from the purchasers the Chens allegedly used the identities of these purchasers, without authorization, to lease or finance the vehicles, and kept the money for themselves.

The amount of money from the fraud exceeds approximately $3.3 million.

Yujen and Maria Chen were arrested on December 4, 2013. They made their initial appearance in federal court in San Jose today, and were released from custody to home confinement. The defendants next scheduled appearance is on December 10, 2013at 8:30am for further bail review before The Honorable Paul S. Grewal, United States Magistrate Judge.

The maximum statutory penalty for each count of wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 1349, is 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, plus restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of international money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(A) is 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved. The maximum penalty for each count of exportation of stolen vehicles, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 553(a)(1), is 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, plus restitution. The maximum penalty for each count of identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1027(a)(7), is 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, plus restitution. The maximum penalty for each count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A, is twenty-four months imprisonment consecutive to any other sentence of imprisonment imposed. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Daniel Kaleba is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Nina Burney and Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigative Division; the California Department of Motor Vehicles; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Customs and Border Protection; and the California Highway Patrol.

Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against a person and, as with all defendants, Yujen Chen and Maria Chen must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

(Chen indictment )