A Loan Broker was ultimately indicted by the Queens district attorney on grand larceny charges that he defrauded more than 23 car buyers with refinancing schemes.
By Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery
July 19, 2014 12:36 pm
Relatively few used-car dealers are charged with fraud. Yet the extreme example of Mr. Estrada comes as some used-car dealers — a business that has long had a reputation for aggressive pitches — are pushing sales tactics too far, according to state prosecutors and federal regulators.
And these are among the thousands of used-car dealers who are working hand-in-hand with Wall Street to sell cars. Court records show that Capital One and Santander Consumer USA all bought loans arranged by Mr. Estrada, who pleaded guilty last year. Since then, Mr. Estrada was indicted on separate fraud charges in March by Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney. That case is still pending.
To guard against fraud, the banks say, they vet their dealer partners and routinely investigate complaints. Capital One has “rigorous controls in place to identify any potential issues,” said Tatiana Stead, a bank spokeswoman, adding that last year “we terminated our relationship with the dealership” where Mr. Estrada worked. Dawn Martin Harp, head of Wells Fargo Dealer Services, said that “it’s important to note that not all claims of dealer fraud turn out to be fraud.”