Marwan Abdellatif, Douglas Nissan Manager, is Fugitive in Elaborate Customer Fraud Case
The Orange County District Attorney's Office is reaching out to the public in its search for the former Douglas Nissan desk manager, who is accused of stealing the identities of unsuspecting customers and defrauding banks in the sale of used cars at the Orange dealership.
A $2 million arrest warrant has been issued for 48-year-old Marwan Abdellatif, a former Lakewood resident who is believed to be hiding out in Riverside County to avoid prosecution for an elaborate conspiracy that has also led to charges against Douglas Nissan's part-owner Frank Ignacio Urbano, 56, of Anaheim, and desk managers Luz Belem Corral, 28, of Costa Mesa, and Kevin Allen DeRosier, 30, of Anaheim.
The OCDA statement on the case follows:
November 8, 2010
OCDA SEEKS PUBLIC'S HELP LOCATING FUGITIVE DOUGLAS NISSAN MANAGER CHARGED WITH DEFRAUDING CUSTOMERS AND BANKS IN THEFT CONSPIRACY
*Defendant is believed to be living in the Riverside County area; photo available upon request
SANTA ANA - The Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA) is seeking the public's help in locating a fugitive charged in an elaborate conspiracy to steal unsuspecting customer identities and defraud banks in the sale of used cars while working as a desk manager at Douglas Nissan in Orange. Marwan Abdellatif, 48, Lakewood, was charged Nov. 5, 2010, with one felony count of failing to appear in court. He is also charged with 43 felony counts of forgery, 31 felony counts of grand theft, one felony count of conspiracy to defraud another of property, and one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 38 years in state prison. Abdellatif has a $2 million warrant for his arrest and is believed to be living in the Riverside County area. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to call their local police department's non-emergency number or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Ron Frazier at (714) 347-8691.
Three co-defendants from Douglas Nissan are also charged in this case. Part-Owner Frank Ignacio Urbano, 56, Anaheim, and desk managers Luz Belem Corral, 28, Costa Mesa, and Kevin Allen DeRosier, 30, Anaheim, faces the same charges as Abdellatif (with exception to the felony failure to appear in court count). Corral is charged with an additional felony count of perjury by declaration and faces a maximum sentence of 39 years in state prison if convicted. Urbano and DeRosier each face a maximum sentence of 37 years and four months in state prison if convicted. All three are out of custody on $100,000 bail.
DeRosier is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 5, 2011, in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. Urbano and Corral are scheduled for arraignment Jan. 16, 2010, in Department C-5.
ORIGIN OF CASE AND SEARCH WARRANT SERVICE JULY 2007
In April 2007, the OCDA began investigating possible fraudulent activity at Douglas car dealerships. The OCDA discovered that between 2005 and 2007, 27 relevant identity theft police reports were filed with the Orange Police Department regarding Douglas Nissan of Orange. More than 100 complaints had been filed with the DMV and Better Business Bureau about Douglas Nissan and the other dealerships for unfair business practices.
Investigators from the OCDA searched Douglas Nissan at 1140 West Katella Avenue in Orange on July 9, 2007. Evidence was seized including two computers, electronic data from four additional computers, and approximately 350 boxes containing approximately 12,000 car transaction dealer jackets. Each dealer jacket contained several documents including contracts, credit reports, applications, warranty and insurance information, and other documentation relevant to the sale or lease of a vehicle. The 77 felony charges in this case represent only the most egregious counts, focusing on 31 fraudulent transactions and representing a small percentage of the large volume of evidence.
At the time of the crime, Urbano was a minority share owner and general manager of Douglas Nissan responsible for day-to-day operations. Corral, DeRosier, and Abdellatif were desk managers who supervised dealership sales staff, secured documentation and financing for vehicle sales, and signed off on all car sale deals.
Between February 2005 and June 2007, the defendants are accused of participating in an elaborate ongoing conspiracy to sell used cars at prices above their value to drive up the cost of monthly payments by the customer. They are accused of participating in illegal business practices by submitting false loan information to defraud lenders and defrauding vulnerable customers by securing unaffordable loans in the customer's name.
When making a lending decision related to the purchase of an automobile, banks rely on Kelley Blue Book to determine the value of a vehicle. In order to justify high loan values for cars on their Douglas Nissan lot, the defendants are accused of falsifying electronic Kelley Blue Book records by overstating the value of certain vehicles and falsifying features of the car. They are accused of defrauding the banks out of an estimated $911,500 in financing through the submission of the falsified records. Eight known banks and lending institutions were defrauded in the scheme. Bank of America, who had received dozens of identity theft affidavits from consumers, had stopped conducting business with Douglas Nissan in June 2007 because of the high number of fraudulent vehicle loan packages from the dealership. The other seven banks and institutions included Americredit Financial Services, Capital One Auto Finance, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation, NuVision Federal Credit Union, Wachovia Financial Services, Wells Fargo Bank, and Wescom Credit Union.
In addition to the banks, the increased loan also victimized customers. Urbano, Corral, DeRosier, and Abdellatif are accused of primarily targeting Spanish speaking customers who did not have proper identification or understand the process of buying a vehicle. They are accused of obtaining or creating false identities and assigning the identities to customers without their knowledge in order to qualify for higher loans. They are accused of creating fake customer pay-stubs to support the falsified claim of higher income. The defendants are accused of encouraging victims to sign loan and purchase documents that had not been completed, and later filling in the documents with information that overstated the victims' loan payment abilities.
The defendants are accused of intentionally overstating the income of customers without the customer's knowledge in order to qualify the victim for a higher loan. In many cases the victims could not afford the payment on the higher loans and lost their cars. They are accused of "loan packing," or having customers purchase extra insurance and warranty coverage by deceiving them about the amount charged for add-on items.
Victims also included non-customers, whose identities had been stolen and used to purchase cars. This resulted in victims with loans and vehicles in their names that they did not know about and to which they did not consent. In some cases, they are accused of misleading victims into believing they were acting as a reference for another customer, and instead using that victim as a co-signer without the victim's knowledge. These victims were left with the responsibility of the high loan if the original customer defaulted on the payments.
In addition to the conspiracy, Corral is also charged with perjury for using a fake social security number on her application for a sales license, which is required in order to sell cars.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Doug Brannan of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts