Thursday, July 20, 2006

Atlanta car loan fraud ring busted

Six Atlantans were arrested July 12 and two others already in custody have been named in connection with a car loan fraud ring operating under the name "Xquisite Empire" that bilked lenders for $2.4 million.

William Marshall, 39, and Kenneth David Harvey, 38, both of Atlanta, who are alleged to be the leaders of the conspiracy, are already in custody on unrelated charges. Arrested today were: Dartez Daniels, 37, Sheena Mullins, 22, Keyomo Butler, 35, Tara Brown-Ferrell, 35, Sheer Godfrey-Fields, 34, and Melissa Fields, 35, all of Atlanta.

Beginning in early 2002, Marshall and Harvey allegedly created a scheme to defraud lenders by fraudulently obtaining 224 high-end luxury vehicles valued at $11.2 million, using more than 50 so-called "straw" purchasers to buy or lease the vehicles. Marshall and Harvey created a company called "Xquisite Empire," which ostensibly was in the rental car business, but had no legitimate income from rental cars.

Marshall and Harvey allegedly supplied straw purchasers with false credit information, which the straw purchasers subsequently listed on loan applications. Marshall, Harvey, and others instructed each straw purchaser to buy as many cars as possible within a 30 day period to prevent prospective lenders from learning about the straw purchasers' true liabilities through seeing the most recent loans relating to fraudulent purchases appear on credit reports.

In return, Marshall and Harvey paid the straw purchasers fees for obtaining the vehicles. Marshall and Harvey took possession of the vehicles, turning them over to others who wanted to conceal their ownership of the vehicles. When the payments to the lenders stopped, and the lenders tried to repossess the vehicles, the straw purchasers did not know where the vehicles were. Only Marshall and Harvey knew who the actual possessors were.

"This fraud scheme was based on luxury cars and lies," said U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias. "The conspirators allegedly designed the scheme to rapidly and fraudulently acquire large numbers of luxury vehicles through straw purchasers. The defendants then sold the cars to others who were unknown to the original lenders, leaving the lenders with very little recourse."



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