Charge: Accepted $122G car, sold it for $40G, money's gone
Thursday, February 12, 2004
By Michaelangelo Conte
Journal staff writer
A Jersey City high school boy is in custody after allegedly conning an Ohio car dealership into shipping him a $122,000 BMW and delivering it to him at Dickinson High School, officials said.
"I don't think we have ever had one like this. It's unique," said Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Tomczak yesterday.
The boy was 16 years old when he phoned Midwestern Auto Group in Dublin, Ohio, at the beginning of January to order the flashy, 12-cylinder BMW 760il, according to police reports.
He told the salesman he would wire the money for the car, and would have his bank call the dealership to confirm the transaction once it went through, officials said.
The dealership mailed the paperwork to the boy's Hancock Street home and he filled it out and sent it back, reports said.
A few days later, the boy allegedly called the dealership pretending to be a bank official and "confirmed" the nonexistent transfer of $122,000, reports said.
The boy turned 17 on Jan. 13, and like a late birthday present, the shiny new sports car was delivered to his school two weeks later, reports said. Apparently satisfied, the boy ordered a second BMW from the dealership that same day, reports said.
Also on Jan. 27, the dealership got a report from its own bank, informing it that the car payment never came through, officials said. The dealership called the Dublin Police Department and reported the car stolen.
The boy drove the car for a couple days, but - believing a second free car was on its way - decided to sell it, reports said.
On Jan. 29, he popped into Best Price Motor Company, on Kennedy Boulevard near the Union City line, and allegedly offered to sell the $122,000 car for about $75,000.
A representative of the dealership said he was interested, but could not make a deal with a minor. The boy let him make copies of the car's Ohio title and his own Dickinson student ID card, saying he would return with his uncle, reports said.
After he left, the salesman called the Ohio dealership and was informed the car was stolen, reports said.
The Jersey City Police Department's Auto Theft Unit got involved and, after speaking to Dublin police, set up surveillance at the boy's home in the Heights to try to spot the BMW, reports said.
After two days of seeing no sign of the vehicle, police said, they knocked on the door of the boy's home and spoke to his mother and explained the situation. The mother cooperated with police, calling her son and asking him to come home; police arrested him when he arrived, reports said.
With the boy in custody, police learned they were no closer to recovering the BMW. The boy told them he sold the car for $40,000 to a used car dealer in North Carolina who drove up to Jersey City and drove back south in the car, reports said.
The boy was processed by the Jersey City Police Department's Juvenile Bureau on the charge of theft by deception and he remains in the youth house in Secaucus. Tomczak said neither the $40,000 nor the BMW have been recovered.
Officials said this is not the first time the boy has been arrested.
The boy will appear before Family Court Judge Mark Baber on Wednesday, where Tomczak may offer him a chance to plead guilty in return for a lesser charge.
If convicted of the theft by deception charge, the boy faces up to three years at the juvenile facility in Jamesburg, Tomczak said.
Representatives of Midwestern Auto Group and Best Price Motor Company each confirmed the alleged scam, but refused to comment on it
A couple of years ago there was a similar incident at a BMW Porsche dealership. Some guy in the showroom overheard what day another customer was coming in to pick up his 911 Turbo, and he came in the day before (when the salesman was not working), and basically pretended to be the guy who bought it. He said he was in a rush and had to run out on business and needed to pick up the car early. So since he was ina a rush, they just let him sign the final paperwork and handed him the key and he drove off.