Two men were arrested and charged for stealing 24 vehicles from a Broward County, Fla., dealership that had employed them, and then selling them to various people and wholesalers.
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Two former employees of a South Florida auto dealership were arrested in connection to a “systematic, organized scheme” that defrauded the business and its customers of more than $643,000, the authorities said.
The men, William Jason Tyler, 48, of Oakland Park, Fla., and Walfredo Misas Cruz, 31, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were arrested on Sept. 7 and each face 24 counts of grand theft auto, one count of grand theft in the first degree and one count of obtaining property over $50,000 by fraud, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Tuesday.
Between November 2018 and July of this year, Mr. Tyler and Mr. Cruz set up a scheme that allowed them to steal 24 vehicles from Z Motors in North Lauderdale, in Broward County, and then sell those vehicles to various people and wholesalers for about $347,700, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
The men also defrauded 166 of the business’s customers of close to $300,000 in cash through money transfer apps, the authorities said.
Detectives began investigating the employees last summer after the company reported “unethical activities” involving the men. Investigators said they learned that the men had falsely brokered deals using the company’s information.
“The customers thought their down payments and monthly vehicle payments were being received by the business, not Tyler and Misas Cruz,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
Mr. Tyler received about $168,500 from customers using money transfer apps and Mr. Misas Cruz received about $126,800, investigators said.
It was not clear if Mr. Tyler had a lawyer on Wednesday. Robert David Malove, a lawyer for Mr. Cruz, said that his client was a salesman who had been duped by his managers and supervisors, though he did not elaborate on the allegation.
“Mr. Cruz is very much looking forward to clearing his name and having his day in court,” Mr. Malove said.
The customers had received credit toward their accounts at the dealership for whatever funds were stolen by the duo, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Mr. Tyler faces an additional charge of impersonating and using the identification of another without consent. The men were taken to the Broward Sheriff’s Office Main Jail, where they were each released on $15,000 bond.
The case remains under investigation, the Sheriff’s Office said.