According to criminal charges filed Tuesday, six individuals involved in a statewide vehicular theft ring used fake identities to steal luxury vehicles from numerous dealerships, including several in the Chicago area.
According to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, 40-year-old Anthony Brown and 27-year-old Sierra Williams organized the scheme, and four other men helped them carry it out.
Brown, an aspiring rapper who goes by the name of Tony Sosa, and Wells both face multiple felony counts in the case.
The indictments allege that the duo used stolen and fraudulent identities to defraud car dealerships and financial institutions. Wells allegedly provided fake identities to Brown, who then used money and drugs to recruit four other men to use the identities to apply for financing for the vehicles.
The conspiracy resulted in the loss of more than $100,000 for dealerships and financing companies, according to the indictment.
The AG’s office collaborated with the Cook County and DuPage County State’s Attorney’s offices, as well as the United States Secret Service, according to a press release.
McGrath Lexus in suburban Westmont, as well as Napleton Porsche, were both targeted in the scheme, according to prosecutors.
Officials say that the theft of high-end luxury vehicles is becoming a bigger problem at dealerships, and say that the arrests in the case will hopefully show that law enforcement is becoming more successful at stopping it.
“We are glad for this news,” Dave Sloan of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association said. “It’s becoming more of a problem at our dealerships, and car theft is becoming more and more sophisticated.”
Raoul says that the indictments are part of a larger sting called Operation Free Ride, an investigation that was launched into seemingly unrelated auto thefts in several states.
The automotive dealership industry estimates that it has lost $223 million nationwide in connection with similar schemes, including $5.7 million in DuPage County alone.
More charges are possible in the case, and the investigation remains ongoing.