Investigators said the vehicles obtained by the fraud ring were being shipped to Africa.
According to prosecutors, the federal investigation extends to four states — Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — in conjunction with a host of local police departments and the Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also had a limited role in the case, according to a spokeswoman with the Westchester County District Attorney's Office.
In all the cases implicating the fraud ring, the suspects are accused of using a stolen identity — different at each dealership — and putting zero money down, according to the investigators.
"This should also be an example to car dealerships to be more aware of these types of schemes and to be cautious when dealing with buyers who seem overly anxious to get the deal done," Scarpino said Monday in the email. "Using an inexpensive license scanner may be one of the simplest ways to prevent this kind of theft from happening in the first place."
Anisa Jibrell contributed to this report.