Georgia Man Sentenced for Role in 'Craigslist Car' Scheme
CINCINNATI – Luis Caseres-Duarte, 26, of Norcross, Ga., was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 21 months in prison for participating in what is known as the “Craigslist car” scheme, a fraud scheme that caused numerous people to send money for cars that were never delivered.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Field Office, and West Chester Police Chief Joel Herzog, announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black.
According to court documents, the scheme involved members of a conspiracy (many of whom were overseas) placing ads on Craiglist and other sites to sell vehicles for attractive prices. The cars were listed for sale using a fake name or fake business name from whom buyers were instructed to wire money to a purported “broker.” Caseres-Duarte and others would then use fraudulent identification documents to pose as the broker and withdraw the wired funds. Once funds were withdrawn, the money would be split between members of the conspiracy. No actual vehicles were ever provided for the purchases.
Caseres-Duarte was identified as part of this scheme during a traffic stop near West Chester, Ohio, shortly after he obtained one of the wire payments at a Walmart. Officers discovered more than $2,000 in cash on his person and when given consent to search Casertes-Duarte’s cell phone, observed text messages identifying transactions of more than $20,000.
Investigators then discovered more than $33,000 in cash in hotel rooms used by the defendant in Cincinnati, as well as documentation noting wires for more than $160,000 to individuals in Hungary.
Caseres-Duarte pleaded guilty in March 2017 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.As part of his sentence, he was also ordered to serve 50 hours of community service, serve three years of supervised release, and pay more than $200,000 in restitution to the buyer victims of the scheme.
A second co-defendant in the case, Javier Martinez-Melo, faced charges for this scheme in both Ohio and Tennessee. Martinez-Melo was sentenced in May 2017 by a federal court in Tennessee and received a total sentence of 57 months.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by the West Chester Police Department and the FBI, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Timothy S. Mangan, who is representing the United States in this case.