A pair of men are facing multiple charges for their roles in an alleged “complex identity fraud scheme” that allowed them to fraudulently “purchase” and possess high-end vehicles from car dealerships throughout Westchester.
The two were arrested and arraigned in North Castle Justice Court on Thursday on charges that include first-degree identity theft and second-degree grand larceny, both felonies, for the theft of a Lexus from Ray Catena Lexus of Larchmont in Mamaroneck, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. announced on Friday.
They have been identified as Bronx residents Jankely Hidalgo, 29, and Jonathan Sevilla, 34.
According to Scarpino, Hidalgo supplied others involved in the scheme with forged driver’s licenses and his victims’ personal identifying information, which included social security numbers, to present themselves as legitimate buyers who wanted financing for expensive vehicles.
Sevilla was one of the individuals that went into the dealerships to “purchase” these vehicles. In Mamaroneck, Hidalgo drove Sevilla to the dealership Oct. 20 last year, 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. The car was valued at $86,741.
The fraudsters allegedly stole five cars from different Westchester County dealerships, from October last year through February of this year. In addition to the stolen Lexus, the ring allegedly stole vehicles from Land Rover of New Rochelle, Rivera Toyota in Mount Kisco, the Croton AutoPark and a Mercedes Benz S500 from Goldens Bridge.
In each of those instances, Hidalgo was allegedly involved. Sevilla was only allegedly a part of stealing the Lexus and Mercedes. In total, it is estimated that the stolen cars carry a value of between $500,000 and $1 million.
Scarpino said that 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, which was 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 Scarpino, they found evidence during the investigation that the stolen vehicles were expected to be exported to Africa for resale. Some of the stolen cars were found and 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 said they were not the only two involved in this scheme and the investigation is ongoing.
“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,” Scarpino said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners as this case unfolds.”
Both Sevilla and Hidalgo are scheduled to be arraigned in Mount Kisco net week in connection to the attempted fraudulent purchase of a vehicle at the Lexus of Mount Kisco. Following their arrests this week, bail was set at $75,000 for both men, who must also relinquish their passports.
“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,” Chief Inspector John Hodges, the commanding officer of the Westchester County Police Detective Division added. “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.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.