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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Four Individuals Charged In $7 Million Car Loan Scheme Involving Dealerships Throughout The New York City Area

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of a complaint charging JULIO ALVAREZ, CHRISTOPHER CAMPOS, MARCO BLASIO, and GEURIS RAMOS with bank and wire fraud charges for perpetrating a scheme to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in car loans. The defendants used at least 20 straw buyers to obtain more than 200 new automobiles based on false representations that, among other things, the straw buyers would use the cars for their personal use when, in fact, the defendants obtained the vehicles in order to lease them to livery cab drivers.  ALVAREZ, CAMPOS, BLASIO, and RAMOS were arrested this morning and will be presented later today before Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated:  “As alleged, the defendants carried out a scheme to obtain millions of dollars in loans under false pretenses at the expense of financial institutions who were deceived into funding the purchase of more than 200 new vehicles.  Thanks to the efforts of our partners at the FBI, these defendants will now be held to account for their criminal misconduct.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez stated:  “The charges announced today describe a scheme in which the defendants allegedly benefitted from fraudulently obtained car loans.  The funding was used by the defendants and their co-conspirators to finance the purchase of more than 200 new automobiles.  The cost of these loans, which ultimately went into default, will eventually be transferred to ordinary citizens seeking financial assistance.  We take these crimes very seriously as we continue to seek out those who exploit the lending industry.”          

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

Between approximately October 2012 and September 2013, ALVAREZ, CAMPOS – who was a practicing attorney, BLASIO, and RAMOS orchestrated a scheme to fraudulently obtain new automobiles that ALVAREZ, CAMPOS, and RAMOS, among others, intended to lease to livery cab drivers.  In order to secure financing in connection with the purchase of these new cars without having to pay the higher interest rates typically charged for commercial vehicles or borrow the cost of the vehicles based on their own ability to pay, ALVAREZ and CAMPOS enlisted and aided individuals with good credit histories (“straw buyers”) to submit fraudulent car loan applications to numerous lenders.  In order to obtain the new vehicles, the defendants sent straw buyers, including RAMOS, to several car dealerships located throughout the New York City area, where dealership employees, including BLASIO, helped straw buyers submit fraudulent loan applications. 

The auto loan applications submitted by the straw buyers falsely represented that the vehicles would be used for the buyers’ personal use, rather than as part of the defendants’ leasing business.  In addition, in many cases, the car loan applications misrepresented personal information about the straw buyers, including their incomes and assets.  ALVAREZ, CAMPOS, BLASIO, and RAMOS also caused financing applications to be sent to multiple financial institutions at the same time so that the lenders would not know that the straw buyers were incurring obligations to other lenders in connection with the purchase of multiple new automobiles.

In total, the scheme carried out by ALVAREZ, CAMPOS, BLASIO, and RAMOS, among others, involved at least approximately 20 straw purchasers, the purchase of more than approximately 200 new vehicles, and more than $7,000,000 in fraudulently obtained loans from a variety of financial institutions.  Most of the loans ultimately went into default.

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ALVAREZ, 47, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, CAMPOS, 39, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, BLASIO, 52, of Commack, New York, and RAMOS, 38, of Bronx, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI, and noted that the investigation remains ongoing.

If you believe you were a victim of this crime, including a victim entitled to restitution, and you wish to provide information to law enforcement and/or receive notice of future developments in the case or additional information, please contact the Victim/Witness Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at (866) 874-8900.  For additional information, go to:

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nys/victimwitness.html

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Niketh Velamoor and Sidhardha Kamaraju are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

16-051
Updated March 9, 2016