Illinois prosecutors have charged six individuals in conjunction with a luxury vehicle theft ring. Authorities say that the culprits targeted luxury dealerships around the state using stolen or fraudulent identities and fraudulent bank information. Two ringleaders are believed to have recruited four others in the scheme.
Officials have said that the theft of luxury vehicles using identity theft is becoming a bigger problem for luxury car dealerships. This high-profile bust will help Chicago police reassure car dealerships that the matter is being taken seriously.
The bust was part of Operation Free Ride, which is a multi-state investigation into seemingly unrelated car thefts. While each of these cases appear on the surface to be an individual event, authorities believe that the same culprits are targeting multiple dealerships and then selling the vehicles on the black market, or shipping them overseas where they can charge thousands more.
Analyzing the Charges
The article does not state specifically what the charges are, but we can guess based on what authorities are alleging in this case. The defendants will be accused of aggravated identity theft, defrauding a financial institution, and theft of an expensive item. The two ringleaders will also face conspiracy charges for masterminding the theft. Since theft charges tend to be related to the amount of money stolen, and each vehicle costs at least $100,000, the defendants will be facing a substantial sentence.
It is also unclear whether or not they are going to be facing Illinois state charges or federal charges. Since all of the thefts occurred within Illinois, the state can prosecute all the crimes together. However, federal charges related to fraud tend to be more severe meaning that the defendants will face longer sentences with mandatory minimums based on a point system.
To top it off, each theft is charged individually. Every time someone’s stolen information was used to effectuate a crime, that is an additional charge. Every car stolen is an additional charge. Each time they presented false information to a financial institution, that is a crime. By the time all of the charges are added up, the defendants will likely be facing several life sentences in prison. The U.S. Secret Service was involved in the investigation.
Defense to the Charges
There are multiple approaches to dealing with fraud and identity theft allegations. Many instances of fraud may only add up to a few thousand dollars. In that case, it would be unfair for the prosecution to charge each individual crime when the total money stolen does not add up to more than $100,000. In this case, however, the total loss was in the millions meaning that the defendants would face the harshest penalties. Hoping for a reasonable plea that allows the defendants to see the outside world sometime in their lives would be a win here.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing serious criminal charges in the Chicago area, criminal defense attorney David Freidberg can manage your case for you. We have the experience you need to fight either state or federal charges. Call today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.