Three Individuals Charged with Conspiring to Defraud Unsuspecting Used Car Buyers in Brooklyn
Defendants Allegedly Forged Documents to Sell Damaged Cars on Craigslist
A federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of New York returned an indictment charging Inna Chebanenko, Andrii Gerasymenko, and Georgy Zakalyugin with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The defendants were arrested in Illinois last week and are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge James Orenstein in federal court in Brooklyn.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charge.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants profited through obtaining fraudulent titles to used cars in order to peddle salvaged or rebuilt vehicles to unsuspecting buyers,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “This Office, working with our law enforcement partners, is committed to protecting consumers and ensuring that they get what they are paying for.” Mr. Donoghue also expressed his grateful appreciation to the United States Postal Inspection Service, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles for their assistance in the investigation.
“Most of us would not be able to pop the hood of a car and see for ourselves that there was damage or something seriously wrong with the vehicle. There are laws protecting consumers for a reason because fraudsters will use whatever means they can to make money illegally,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and other governmental agencies to do all we can to stop criminals from taking advantage of unsuspecting people.”
According to the court documents, between 2013 and 2016, the defendants conspired to defraud car buyers in Brooklyn and elsewhere by concealing the fact that the cars were “salvage” or “rebuilt” vehicles. Vehicles are given a “salvage” title when they have been destroyed or received substantial damage. Cars with “salvage” titles are worth a fraction of the value of a comparable car without a “salvage” title. By forging the signatures of non-existent Indiana law enforcement officers on the necessary certifications, the conspirators obtained car titles from the State of Indiana stating that the salvage cars had been “rebuilt,” indicating the cars had been repaired and restored to operational condition. However, the “rebuilt” status of the cars was concealed on the titles by, among other means, placing an automobile auction sticker on the title before selling the cars to unsuspecting buyers in Brooklyn and elsewhere at inflated prices. The buyers would then find themselves in possession of a vehicle with a value that was a fraction of the value-as-represented at the time of the sale.
The charges announced today are merely allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney G. Karthik Srinivasan.
River Grove, Illinois
E.D.N.Y. Docket Nos. 18-CR- 51