NEW YORK, NY — Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. announced the arrest of two Bronx men in a complex identity fraud scheme that allowed them to fraudulently “purchase” and take possession of high-end vehicles at car dealerships throughout Westchester by using the personal identifying information and credit of their victims.
Jankely Hidalgo and Jonathan Sevilla were arraigned Thursday in North Castle Justice Court on charges of Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, and Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, for the theft of a Lexus automobile from “Ray Catena Lexus of Larchmont” in the Town of Mamaroneck. Bail was set at $750,000 each. Both men must surrender their passports.
Prosecutors allege, Hidalgo supplied others involved in the scheme with forged driver’s licenses and victims’ personal identifying information, such as social security numbers, to present themselves as legitimate buyers who wanted financing for expensive vehicles. Sevilla was one of the individuals that actually went into the dealerships to “purchase” these vehicles. In the Town of Mamaroneck, Hidalgo drove Sevilla to the Ray Catena car dealership Oct. 20, 2017, where he presented himself using the victim’s identity, made a deal to finance a vehicle, and drove the vehicle off the lot without paying for it. It was valued at $86,741.
In some cases, Hidalgo drove his accomplices to the locations. There was a new victim’s identity used for each auto “purchase.”
Prosecutors say, the ring successfully stole five cars from different Westchester County dealerships from October 2017 to February 2018 in addition to the Larchmont Lexus. Charges on the following thefts are expected soon. Hidalgo was involved with each of these but, in two cases, worked with accomplices other than Sevilla.
· Land Rover of New Rochelle, a Land Rover, New Rochelle (not Sevilla)
· Rivera Toyota, Toyota 4 Runner, Mount Kisco (not Sevilla)
· Croton AutoPark, a Range Rover, Croton (not Sevilla)
· Mercedes Benz, Mercedes S500, Golden’s Bridge
The monetary value of the scheme is estimated between $500,000 and $1 million. Sevilla and Hidalgo also will be charged in Mount Kisco next week in connection with an attempted fraudulent purchase of a vehicle at the Lexus of Mount Kisco.
A search warrant of Hidalgo’s home in the Bronx recovered smartphones and a number of electronic devices, some storing victims’ identifying information, and a credit card reader/writer, used to create forged credit cards. In Sevilla’s Bronx home, detectives found more than a dozen cell phones, SIM phone cards and memory cards.
According to evidence developed during the course of the investigation, the stolen vehicles were to be exported to Africa for resale. Some of the vehicles were recovered before being placed in shipping containers.
The Larchmont case has been adjourned to Monday in Town of Mamaroneck Court. Because vehicles were sourced from several dealerships and locations, the two men are expected to be charged in other jurisdictions. Prosecutors say, they were not the only two involved in this scheme and the investigation is continuing.
This investigation was a collaboration among the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security and a number of police departments including the Westchester County Police, New York City (NYPD), Fishkill and New Rochelle police departments.
“We worked in collaboration with the Westchester District Attorney’s Office to connect our case in Mount Kisco to the similar incidents that occurred elsewhere in the county. The teamwork among all agencies involved in the broader investigation made it possible to successfully identify and arrest several suspects who were committing identity theft and large-scale financial fraud in our communities,” said Chief Inspector John Hodges, commanding officer of the Westchester County Police Detective Division.
“Identity theft is a crime which can affect many victims and industries, as this alleged scheme shows. We are very proud of this multi-agency investigation which has led to these arrests, and thank, in particular the Westchester County Police for their work in this case,” said District Attorney Scarpino. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners as this case unfolds.”
Assistant District Attorney Stefanie DeNise of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Investigation Division Identity Theft Unit, is prosecuting the case.