Guam, besides having the highest per-capita Spam consumption in the world (16 tins per person, on average), is also home to a recently uncovered fraud scheme that placed high-end vehicles in the driveways of island residents.
On paper, anyway. The unsuspecting residents — over 50 of them, authorities say — had no idea their names were placed next to luxury SUV registrations in the Department of Motor Vehicles database.
The Guam Daily Post reports that a luxury vehicle dealership, its sales manager, and a tax preparer face a 29-charge indictment for their roles in a fraudulent export scheme. It is alleged that the two individuals tapped personal information from tax documents to register high-end vehicles in Guam before shipping them to wealthy buyers in China.
A joint investigation by the FBI and Office of the Attorney General blew the lid off the scheme. Facing charges that include identity theft, forgery and conspiracy are Prestige Automobiles, sales manager Orlando P. Domingo, and Ana Kristine Absalon. The scheme is similar to recent crimes uncovered in the continental U.S.
Authorities claim the investigation began after a Guam resident received shocking news. In July, 2015, a man applying for social assistance learned that he was, in fact, the proud owner of two top-spec SUVS — a Range Rover Sport and BMW X5 — which he had apparently bought at Prestige Automobiles for the princely sum of $133,000. The man’s personal information was used to register the vehicles in Guam. False insurance information and a phony bill of sale apparently sealed the “deal.”
The same process was followed for other Range Rover and BMW sales. First, Absalon allegedly provided Domingo with personal information from her clients. Once in the hands of unsuspecting “owners,” the vehicles were then exported to China, where buyers paid a steep premium for the rolling luxury — likely two or three times the U.S. asking price.
The Pacific Daily News reports that Absalon was formerly employed at Prestige. Documents filed by a local prosecutor claim dealership employees tried to de-register vehicles after the “owners” discovered the fraud.