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NY Man Pleads Guilty to License Plate Fraud Ring in PA

A NY man has admitted to running a crime ring that rented out more than 1,000 fake Pennsylvania license plates. Rafael Levi, 51, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty on March 9 in Dauphin County Court to 36 third-degree felonies, according to Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office. Levi was charged for more than 500 counts back in April 2017.

Prosecutors said these rings charge $400 a month for fake license plates that people used in order to avoid paying more than $1 million in parking fines and highway tolls in New York, Pennsylvania, and neighboring states. The ring was named “Operation Car Wash” and also provided fake insurance cards, rolled back odometer reading on cars it bought and sold, and issued fake letters to PennDOT in order to get clean vehicle titles.

Levi also pleaded guilty on behalf of nine businesses, each of which will be ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and a civil penalty of $15,000. Eight other members of the ring also pleaded guilty on March 9 to crimes including theft and insurance fraud. Shapiro said his office is looking for restitution of more than $1.5 million from these defendants.

There is a way to stop this kind of fraud? There just might be in the future, thanks so a program called Blockchain. The concept of this technology is that every vehicle produced would be encrypted with “blocks” containing a VIN number, build data, and paint code. Every time a change happens to the car, from an oil change to a car accident, it would be added to the blocks.

A blockchain system could help prevent things like odometer fraud, which has an estimated rollback of 15,000 miles, costing $4 billion a year in consumer losses, and other car related crimes. It can also be used for driver-less car data sharing by parties like consumers and insurers.

Greg Riche, senior manager of Accenture Mobility, said a blockchain reveals that truest asset value of a vehicle. A system like this just might be able to bring crime rings like “Operation Car Wash” to a halt.