Massachusetts newspaper The Eagle Tribune has reported that the owner of a used car dealer in Providence, RI pleaded guilty to federal charges of defrauding banks out of millions in loans. Approximately $2,419,054 in loans had been taken out with the fraudulent information.
According to the case being prosecuted by Rhode Island district attorney, Rolando E. Estrella and nine other dealership employees used customer information to file bogus auto loan applications, somehow get approved for them, and then take the money out of bank accounts that were opened with the same information.
According to the statement, Estrella and “his confederates” then used that information, along with falsified automobile titles and other counterfeit documents, to apply for and receive used car and truck loans. The loan funds were deposited into bank accounts opened by members of the conspiracy in the supposed “sellers’” names. Members of the conspiracy quickly withdrew the funds from banks in the form of cash, according to authorities.
To receive the loans, fake car dealerships were created by Estrella and his scammers so that banks would then extend loans to these “dealerships” for these fake vehicles.
As part of the scheme, the conspirators falsely identified complicit bank account holders as “sellers” and shell used car businesses created by members of the conspiracy to induce lenders to extend loans purportedly to purchase used cars.
Estrella not only filed false documents — he created them as well. Everything needed for a loan approval was faked. Pay stubs, vehicle titles, registration documents, and proof of employment. After being arrested and charged in December 2019, then investigated by the Inspector General and the Secret Service in a probe that concluded in early 2020, a grand jury indicted Estrella on ten counts, including fraudulently using a social security number, identity theft, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud among others.
Estrella is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2022. Three of the nine dealer workers still have arrest warrants out for them. While one has been captured, it’s unknown whether or not the other two have been caught.