San Jose Residents Plead Guilty To Wire Fraud Conspiracy In Craigslist Automobile Resale Fraud Scheme
Defendants Agree To Pay Between $935,813 and $1,109,885 in Restitution As Part Of Plea Agreements
SAN FRANCISCO –Ramil Heydarov and Orkhan Aliyev pleaded guilty today to conspiracy charges related to a scheme to defraud purchasers of vehicles on the Craigslist website by rolling back the odometers on vehicles before reselling them, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Tatum King, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair. The guilty pleas were accepted by the Honorable Susan Illston, Senior U.S. District Judge, and, along with the October 12, 2021, guilty plea of Seymur Khalilov, establishes that all three defendants charged in the case have now pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy charges.
According to the defendants’ plea agreements, from at least October 2017 through December 2020, Khalilov, 32; Heydarov, 31; and Aliyev, 32, all of San Jose, conspired to purchase high-mileage vehicles, roll back the odometers, and falsify documentation to make the vehicles appear newer. Specifically, the co-conspirators altered the odometers of numerous vehicles and altered registrations and titles, among other items, to fraudulently decrease the mileage readings of the vehicles and, thus, increase their sales value. The co-conspirators then posted advertisements of the vehicles on Craigslist to advertise the vehicles to victims who were not aware of the fraudulent alterations. Additionally, the defendants admitted using doctored driver’s licenses containing their photograph but the names of prior vehicle owners to facilitate the sale of these vehicles. The co-conspirators each acknowledged that the goal of the conspiracy was to sell vehicles to victims for an increased price based on the fraudulent odometer readings. According to the plea agreements, the co-conspirators sold at least 78 vehicles with rolled back odometer readings, resulting in a total loss to the victims of greater than $550,000.
All three defendants were charged in a single criminal complaint filed on May 3, 2021, and each was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. As a result of today’s proceedings, all three defendants now have pleaded guilty to the charge. In addition, the defendants each have agreed as part of their plea agreements to pay restitution to the victims of the conspiracy in amounts reflecting the defendant’s respective role in the conspiracy. Khalilov has agreed to pay restitution in an amount between $360,000 and $534,072 that will be set by the court. Heydarov agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $379,235 and Aliyev agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $196,578.
Judge Illston scheduled the defendants’ sentencing for February 4, 2022. In addition to restitution, the conspiracy charge carries a maximum statutory prison term of up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine. The court also may order a term of supervised release to follow the prison term. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leif Dautch and Ankur Shingal are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Marina Ponomarchuk and Soana Katoa. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the California Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations Division in Vallejo, the San Ramon Police Department, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations.