Men sentenced in $4.3M truck warranty fraud scheme

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Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 5:43 AM CST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia man has been sentenced to six years in prison in a $4.3 million truck warranty fraud scheme.

The Justice Department says 46-year-old James Pinson of Wayne County was convicted in December by a federal jury of wire fraud, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiring to commit money laundering.

He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Also sentenced Thursday was 69-year-old Frank Russo of North Carolina. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud in July 2020 and was sentenced to two years.

Pinson owned Big Blue Motor Sales, a Kentucky used car dealership.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to carry out his scheme, Pinson bought Toyota trucks at wholesale prices at auction, obtained hundreds of copies of Kentucky and West Virginia residents’ driver’s licenses, fraudulently titled the trucks in the name of those residents, and fraudulently induced Toyota to repurchase the trucks at 150% of their retail value.

Toyota issued 350 checks in the names of individual false owners between 2013 and 2015. Pinson forged signatures on all 350 checks and deposited them into his bank account. Pinson then used the money from this fraud scheme to buy more Toyota trucks at wholesale to run through the scheme. He also paid cash bribes to a service manager at a Toyota dealership and a representative of the company that Toyota hired to administer the Customer Support Program.

Pinson further used the criminally-derived money from the fraud scheme to purchase a beach house in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office

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