ORANGE COUNTY, CA
- A Nissan dealership in the City of Orange was raided July 9 by dozens of investigators from Orange County District Attorney's Office and the Orange police department as part of a month-long investigation into complaints of alleged identity theft by the dealership, according to the Orange County Register newspaper.
The investigation into Douglas Nissan at 1140 W. Katella Avenue is still in its infancy, officials said at a press conference, but thousands of fraudulent loans may have been processed with stolen identities involved the scam. The vast majority of victims were Hispanic, prosecutors said.
Douglas Nissan remained open while uniformed police officers carted out more than 350 cardboard boxes packed with lease documents, dealer jackets, and loan applications.
Prosecutors believe pilfered pay stubs, driver licenses and social security numbers were used to apply for – and obtain – fraudulent car loans at Douglas Nissan, said Susan Schroeder, a spokeswoman of the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
“This is something that frightens everyone – that their identity might be stolen and they're left holding the bad credit,” Schroeder said.
Investigators were looking into whether employees of the dealership were part of the scam.
The multi-agency investigation – which included representatives of the Department of Motor Vehicles - began about three months ago after complaints of fraudulent loans being processed by the dealership flooded the District Attorney's office.
The Better Business Bureau, which keeps track of complaints customers make against businesses, recorded 42 complaints against Douglas Nissan over the last three years. Eleven of those complaints resulted in a full refund to the customer. Douglas Nissan earned a B rating from the bureau – the middle of the bureau's 12 ratings. According to the bureau's Web site, a B is a good rating that still implies reputability.