Pennsylvania preps charges in alleged license plate fraud

Pennsylvania's attorney general's office says it is preparing to file charges against a dozen people and 14 businesses as part of an organized crime ring that rented out fraudulent license plates.

The office says the ring profited by renting out thousands of license plates it fraudulently obtained in Pennsylvania. It says the license plate users avoided paying nearly $2 million in fines and fees for parking, EZ Pass, insurance and car loans in multiple states.

The attorney general's office also says the ring "washed" vehicle titles to launder money.

The organized crime ring was headed by Rafael Levi of Brooklyn New York, according to a release.

According to a grand jury presentment made public today, here are the major elements of the fraudulent schemes perpetrated by the Levi ring:

• License plates fraudulently obtained: Levi and his associates provided fraudulent documents, to the PA Departments of Transportation and State. As a result, they illegally obtained more than a thousand Pennsylvania license plates. They rented the plates for $400 a month or more. The people who got these plates avoided paying parking fines and EZ Pass tolls totaling $1 million in New York, Pennsylvania and neighborhood states.

• Fake insurance cards: The Levi ring provided cars and vehicles with fake insurance cards. When accidents would happen involving any of these cars, motorists filed claims with insurance companies – but there was no legitimate policy to pay on.

• Washed car titles: The ring issued phony letters to PennDOT which enabled them to get clean titles on vehicles. The Levi ring scammed $500,000 owed to financial institutions through this part of the scheme.

• Fraudulent odometer rollbacks:The ring rolled back odometer readings on 35 cars – enabled them to sell cars for more money than they otherwise would’ve sold for.

• Drivers’ licenses: The ring obtained Pennsylvania drivers licenses at an address in Pennsylvania that they defendants never lived at – another part of the scheme.

The ring was able to "buy" a vehicle in cash with one of the interlocking dealerships, get the car washed through another of the many dealerships and avoid paying more than $100,000 in PA sales tax.

Attorney General Shapiro said this investigation is ongoing and that law enforcement in other states possibly connected to criminal conduct involving Levi's ring, have been notified.

Anyone with information about the individuals or businesses involved in this investigation is encouraged to call the Office of Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section at 717-787-0272.

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