HOUSTON – Houston police tracked down a serial fraud suspect tied to more than 1,400 cases in several states and cities, including Houston.
“He’s just a very efficient fraudster,” said HPD Sgt. D. Schlosser.
Police said Jarius Bell of Ruston, of Louisiana, is connected to at least three cases of vehicle fraud in the Houston area.
Local dealerships on alert in late September
Bell first popped onto HPD’s radar in late September. Investigators said since then, he attempted to buy vehicles online from several local dealerships using the name “Jimmie Warner.”
“There’s at least five dealerships that have credit applications from somebody claiming to be Jimmie Warner,” Schlosser said.
In one case from mid-October, police said he asked that the car be delivered to him citing COVID-19 concerns.
“We decided to set up an operation where we would deliver the car to him pretending to be a dealership employee,” Schlosser said.
Police investigation leads to the discovery of lengthy criminal history
Police arrested Bell but said his fingerprints did not match anyone with an arrest record. They said he was given a low bond and was out of jail the next day. So they began to do some digging.
“We ran his face through a facial recognition program and it came up with a person who was arrested in Louisiana for 1,400 counts of fraud named Jarius Bell,” Schlosser said.
Bell connected to vehicle fraud cases in Houston, Humble and Spring
Not long after his release from jail, Sgt. Schlosser said he was contacted by a dealership in Humble. This time, police said, Bell tried to buy a vehicle, pretending to be someone named “Jeff Brown.
“During that arrest, he was operating another vehicle he had obtained from a dealership in Spring,” Schlosser said.
Bell is now behind bars on three felony charges and has a combined bond of $135,000.
His next court date is Jan. 5, 2021
Impact on consumer
If you’re wondering how this kind of crime impacts consumers, think of it this way. Every time someone doesn’t get caught and gets away with this crime, the cost somehow always gets passed onto the consumer.
“You’ll find that in higher premiums, you’ll find that in higher prices for vehicles, you’ll find it in higher interest rates,” Schlosser said.
So far this year, Houston police have made 29 separate arrests and prevented $1.23 million in vehicle fraud.