District Man Found Guilty Of Series Of Car Loan Scams That Cheated Victims Out Of More Than $185,000- Posed As Car Dealer To Swindle Victims To Buy Cars He Did Not Own -
WASHINGTON -- Benjamin Grey, 33, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty by a jury today of a total of 21 federal charges, including five counts of bank fraud and seven counts of wire fraud, in connection with a scheme in which he posed as a car dealer to defraud individuals and banks of more than $185,000.
The verdicts, which followed a trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, were announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Kathy A. Michalko,Special Agent in Charge, Washington Field Office, U.S. Secret Service, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
The jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges. The Honorable Ellen S. Huvelle scheduled sentencing for Dec. 17, 2013. Grey faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each bank fraud and wire fraud charge.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Grey claimed to run car dealerships named Planet Cars and GreyMaxx. He persuaded various individuals to apply for car loans to buy luxury cars, such as BMWs, from him and Planet Cars. After each bank or credit union granted the loan, and gave the applicant a loan check to buy the car, Grey took the money and spent it. Afterwards, however, Grey never produced the promised car, and avoided contact with the victim. In fact, Grey never owned the cars in question.
As the evidence showed, each auto loan was between $29,000 and $35,000. After the scheme, each victim was left without the car – but with the car loan coming due. Some victims tried to pay the loans, even though they had been swindled; another declared bankruptcy, devastating her credit. The lending institutions lost the amounts loaned. The individual victims included an Army veteran who had served in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Grey spent the loan checks at bars, nightclubs, and retail establishments in and around the D.C. area, running up bar tabs in the thousands of dollars.
In addition, the evidence at trial showed that Grey executed other, similar confidence schemes. In August and September 2010, Grey defrauded a would-be business partner out of $34,000 by pretending that the money would finance their purchase and re-sale of luxury cars. Similarly, in April 2010, Grey – holding himself out as the owner of Planet Cars – pretended to buy a car from a legitimate car dealership in Bethesda, Md., using a worthless check drawn on a Planet Cars bank account that had been closed for a year.
In announcing the verdicts, U.S. Attorney Machen, Special Agent in Charge Michalko and Chief Lanier expressed appreciation for the work done by those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department and Secret Service. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Krishawn Graham, Lenisse Edloe, and Tasha Harris, and Legal Assistant Angela Lawrence. Finally, he commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Friedman, who investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Hooks and Christopher Kavanaugh, who investigated and tried the case.