Hauppauge (WALK) - Rent a car, steal a car.
That's the name Suffolk District Attorney Tom Spota has given to a car theft ring that he and his investigators have busted up, he said in an announcement yesterday. Three men are accused of using fake IDs and credit cards to rent cars at local airports, and then turning around and selling the late-model cars on the cheap for some quick cash. A fourth suspect is facing drug charges.
Spota (pictured at left) says that the men rented and sold eight vehicles to one of his undercover detectives, and two more stolen rental cars were seized after search warrants were carried out.
“These cars were sold for a fraction of their retail value,” Spota said. “Our undercover paid $2,100 for a brand new Cadillac ATS, a 2013 Dodge Durango for $3,200, and a 2012 Mercedes for $3,000."
According to the DA, the cars had a total Blue Book value of $245,000.
Spota says that two of the suspects, Feliz Sanchez of Brentwood and Jose Lopez of Bay Shore, both 29, would rent the cars in the middle of the night at car rental booths at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Airports, using a fake credit card and Connecticut driver's license manufactured by a third suspect. Jason Gonzalez, 23, allegedly made the phony items in his upstairs bedroom at his parents' Lindenhurst home, using equipment he'd bought on eBay.
The investigation also netted 150 fake credit cards. The cards were encoded with account information that was stolen using a skimmer at a Suffolk location of a national chain retailer. The trio allegedly paid two or three dollars apiece for valid credit card numbers, including security code information, from an overseas website.
The scheme was actually uncovered during an ongoing probe of drug trafficking in Suffolk, which resulted in the arrest of Kenneth Godfrey of Holbrook. Godfrey, 47, is charged with marijuana sales and possession. Authorities recovered three pounds of marijuana and 50 Oxycodone pills intended for street sale, Spota says.
Photo: Suffolk District Attorney's Office