Identity thieves targeting local car dealerships during COVID-19 pandemic, police say

Police say they've arrested more than 50 people this year alone who were trying to commit fraud at a car dealership.

HOUSTON – Car dealerships in the Houston area are getting more attention during these uncertain times, but not just from honest consumers. Criminals are trying to buy pricey cars using fake identification, police said.

Auto theft investigators from the Houston Police Department said they arrested three people accused of targeting the same local dealership in the span of three days.

On May 22, police arrested Travis Hayes, who investigators said used the name, Christopher Johnson. Three days later, police said while they were stopping Eugene Johnson at that same dealership, Eric Alford, who expressed interest in a new car two days earlier, came back with a fake Texas driver’s license. Alford was signing off on the documents to purchase a new vehicle, police said.

“When this kind of fraud happens, it impacts the finance teams, the finance companies, the car dealerships, and then goes on down to the consumer,” said RoShelle Salinas, the executive vice president of the Houston Automotive Dealers Association. “That’s why we’re really big in educating our dealerships and working so closely with the Houston Police Department to be able to catch these people. If we weren’t capturing these criminals, then they were just going to the next dealership and the next dealership and on down the freeway to all the dealerships.”

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