HOUSTON - Houston police and U.S. Postal Inspectors worked together on a case involving numerous luxury cars being purchased with stolen identities. Police said the case began with a tip about a single car purchase that seemed "irregular."
Police said four men used other people's identities to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in car purchases. Police said the men bought Porsches, Audis, Land Rovers, BMWs and a Chevy Camaro.
"Most of the dealerships didn't know they had been a victim yet, before we were calling them saying, 'Hey, there's a problem with this deal, you might want to look at it and come get your car,'" said Sgt. Tolan Harding.
Police said in little more than a month's time, the group used seven identities at eight dealerships to buy 12 luxury cars for a total of $485,136.
Joel Cruz, Darion Wells, Devante Ruffin and Jamonte Booker have all been arrested and charged with fraud and identity theft. Police said in addition to the cars, Booker and Ruffin used other people's IDs to get lines of credit so they could get breast implants for themselves.
Police said the men got other people's information from apartment leasing records. Police said when two of the men were looking to lease an apartment at a complex on Old Farm Road near Westheimer, they noticed a storage facility on the property that had several boxes of old leasing records.
"After they toured the property and left, they came back later, broke into the storage facility and took all the boxes of leasing records," said Harding.
In fact, police said when they arrested the men at a complex on Briar Forest, they prevented even more people from suffering identity theft.
"They had boxes, and boxes and boxes of more stolen identities to use. So there would have been hundreds, if not thousands of more victims," said Harding.
Cruz, Wells and Ruffin have been charged in federal court. Booker has been charged in state court. Police said four of the men have been cooperative. Investigators said Cruz refused to answer questions, but denied any wrongdoing.
Police were also able to recover all the stolen cars, including a Chevy Camaro that was sold for $12,000 on Craigslist to an unsuspecting buyer.
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