Jesse Jones

Repeat identity thief buys car, motorhome on stolen credit

Burien, WA — A 2017 Dodge Charger Hellcat is a heck of a muscle car. But cops said a not-so-chiseled guy smoothly stole the $56,991 ride from a dealership in Burien.

Carlos Santana, sales manager at Legend Auto Sales, said he’s never seen anything like it.

“Like this? No. Kind of out of a movie,” said Santana.

And the sale went on the credit of an unsuspecting man in Buckley.

“I wish I had a clue how he got everything,” said Austin Slyter.

Maybe the thief is clueless because he took pictures with the car after he stole it.

“He took off his mask, full-body shot,” said Alona Moskalenko, chief operating officer at Legend Auto Sales.

And now the cops are on the hunt for the suspect, whom they’ve identified and even tracked down online.

“He drove it off the lot and has been acting like it’s his ever since ever since,” said King County sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Abbott.

See, the scammer is the very same guy who stole an $81,395 motor home in Mount Vernon, got a $20,000 personal loan and bought some furniture. All of it was bought under Slyter’s name.

“It’s been a headache from the start. It’s never-ending, it seems like,” said Slyter.

The tally is over $200,000 — all on his shiny credit. But a sloppy move put the scammer’s dirty work right on Slyter’s doorstep.

“Put a down payment with somebody else’s credit card, and then they sent paperwork to my house that I needed to fill out that they forgot to fill out. And that’s kind of when I figured out that he bought a motor home,” said Slyter.

Slyter then ran his credit, only to learn about the car and the loan. He hopes that’s all the damage the thief was able to do.

“It’s just a waiting game now,” said Slyter.

What we’ve learned from Legend Auto Sales is that the scammer had all of Slyter’s personal information, including his Social Security number, his place of employment and his salary.

All of it matched.

“Everything matched,” said Santana. “The bank actually paid us. They checked it on their end. Everything was verified.”

Abbott asked us not to reveal the suspect’s name publicly. But investigators have dealt with him before.

“He has a history of doing this exact same thing — the identity theft part — so it’s just a matter of us trying to figure out exactly where he’s at,” said Abbott.

This isn’t a small problem anymore. There were 3.2 million identity theft and fraud reports last year alone.

“And the profits you can make from that are just astronomical,” said DomainTools computer security expert Tarik Saleh.

Earlier this year, Saleh was asked to find Social Security numbers for sale online. He found many quicker than a Hellcat travels a quarter mile.

“I have one individual here — their addresses all over the world, their date of birth. And then I can click this button to purchase for five dollars their Social Security number,” said Saleh.

Cops are still on the lookout for the thief, the RV and the muscle car. And both RV Country and Legend Auto Sales are offering rewards for information that lead to the recovery of the vehicles.

So if you see them, call the police — these crimes are being investigated by Mount Vernon Police, the King County Sheriff’s Office, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and Buckley Police.

“I don’t know who does that. I can’t believe somebody would do that, but I guess people are crazy,” said Slyter.

Slyter is now off the hook financially for all of the thefts. But the lesson here is to freeze your credit. No dealer or bank will finance anything without a credit report. It’s free to do, and you can unfreeze your credit anytime.

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