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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Four charged in Elite Car Imports racketeering scheme

All charged with Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) practices

Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today that four defendants who ran two used car dealerships in Indianapolis have been charged in connection with their illegal activities. The indictment charges,

Mohamed Noshi Mahmoud, a/k/a Noshi 39, Fishers

Mahdi Kehlifi, 23, Indianapolis

Issa Kayyali, 28, Indianapolis

Hamza Dridi, a/k/a Alex, 26, Indianapolis

with violations of the RICO statute along with a variety of other violations of federal law including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and interstate transportation of stolen property.

“As is so often the case in these fraud cases, the ultimate victims are the ones least that can least afford it,” said Minkler. “Elite Motors abused processes in place that would allow citizens with subprime credit to get back on their feet through legitimate vehicle sales.”

Mohamed Noshi Mahoud (Noshi) was the principal leader and manager of Elite Enterprise which operated two used car dealerships and several “shell” companies in Indianapolis. Noshi allegedly directed other members and associates of the enterprise to engage in activity that assisted him in carrying out unlawful acts. Kehlifi was a managing sales associate involved in the day-to-day operations of the dealership, Kayyali was a sales associate and Dridi was the service manager and mechanic in charge of the chop shop the dealership used to disassemble vehicles that were later alleged to be stolen.

The indictment alleges that Noshi and other Elite managers engaged in three separate but interlocking fraud schemes on behalf of the business enterprise. The first was to procure fraudulent documents and submit them to lending and financial institutions to underwrite the purchase of cars, trucks and motorcycles on behalf of Elite’s customers. The documents included social security numbers, dates of birth and paystubs from the shell companies Elite employees or associates created.

The second scheme was a conspiracy to defraud insurance carriers by submitting false claims of stolen vehicles. The defendants allegedly claimed that certain vehicles were damaged or stolen, thereby causing the insurance carriers to release claim money to the policy and lien holder benefitting Elite. In many cases stolen vehicles and/or parts were located in the chop shop storage unit leased by Noshi.

The third scheme allegedly involved theft from specialty financing companies who gave Elite short term financing and lines of credit for vehicles in inventory. These specialty financing companies were defrauded through a series of steps including false representations made by Elite management. 

The case was investigated through a collaborative partnership between federal, state, and local officials.  The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Social Security, OIG, the Lawrence Police Department (Indiana), and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, with assistance provided by the Indiana Secretary of State, Auto Division and the Indiana Attorney General Consumer Fraud Division.

W. Jay Abbott, Special Agent in Charge of the Indianapolis Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, stated, “These charges send a clear message that illegal business practices in the form of white collar crime will not be tolerated.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation and our law enforcement and regulatory partners will continue to aggressively pursue individuals who steal from honest, hardworking Americans and corporate America.” 

“The defendants allegedly participated in an illicit organization that affected interstate commerce through the transportation of stolen property, money laundering, mail and wire fraud. In doing so, they utilized the U.S. Mail, which brought to bear the full investigative attention of Postal Inspectors,” said Patricia Armstrong, acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Detroit Division.  “We will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to ensure actions such as these are aggressively investigated and pursued for criminal prosecution.”

Tracey Thanos, Special Agent-in-Charge of the SSA/OIG’s Chicago Field Division, stated, “The Social Security Office of the Inspector General is committed to working with other law enforcement agencies to investigate individuals who misuse Social Security numbers and other personal information to commit various forms of financial fraud.  We commend our law enforcement partners for their contributions to this investigation, and we thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Southern Indiana for pursuing this case and other cases involving SSN misuse.”  

Assistant United States Attorney Cynthia J. Ridgeway is prosecuting the case for the government and said all four defendants face up to 20 years’ imprisonment if convicted.

An indictment is merely a charge and not evidence of guilt. All parties are presumed innocent until proven guilty in federal court.

Updated August 30, 2016