Local10.com, Chris Gothner, March 21, 2023
HIALEAH, Fla. – A Hialeah used car dealership owner is at-large and an accused accomplice was arrested Monday after police accused them of using a 73-year-old woman’s identity to register and finance three vehicles in her name, leaving her in “financial ruin,” according to an arrest report.
Damian Iglesia-Martinez, 26, was taken into custody at his grandmother’s apartment on Southwest 18th Street Monday.
But, according to the arrest report, police are still looking for Christopher Landy Mora, 24, the owner of Realeza Motors.
The dealership is located at 5612 E. Eighth Ave., which, coincidentally, is across from Hialeah police headquarters.
According to the arrest report, the investigation dates back to December, when an insurance investigator contacted police.
The investigator, with National General Insurance, contacted authorities after contacting the victim regarding a crash involving a 2020 Honda Accord that she had taken out an insurance policy on after purchasing it from Realeza Motors, police said.
The problem was, according to the report, the victim knew nothing about the car, the insurance policy or driver or passenger in it at the time of the crash. She told police that she only owned a 2017 Toyota Corolla and had a policy with Geico.
She had never actually bought the Accord and never authorized anyone to buy it in her name, she told police.
She hadn’t purchased a 2016 Ford Mustang or 2018 Chevrolet Malibu either, police said, yet, they were also registered, insured and financed in her name.
Police said Iglesia-Martinez pretended to be the victim’s nephew and Mora, who was also the dealership’s finance manager, signed off on all the paperwork.
They said the loan paperwork falsely claimed that the woman worked at a cell phone store and had an $8,000 monthly income in order to obtain financing.
Police also said Iglesia-Martinez was involved in the crash with the fraudulently-purchased Accord.
According to the arrest report, the woman suffered an “untold amount of emotional and financial damage” from the scheme, including being sued for the crash and having her Florida driver’s license suspended.
The woman told investigators that she’d received a barrage of calls from the finance company, demanding payments be made for the vehicles.
Police said her credit had been “ruined” at the hands of Mora.
Mora and Iglesia-Martinez “had to have planned and had full knowledge of what they were doing,” police wrote, and Mora “knowing(ly) and willfully failed to do his due diligence by verifying the information provided by (Iglesia-Martinez), which was done in furtherance of the scheme.”
Police said the amount of fraud totaled more than $108,000.
According to the arrest report, Iglesia-Martinez faced charges of organized scheme to defraud, using identification without consent, first-degree grand theft, scheme to defraud a financial institution and filing a false motor vehicle insurance application.
It’s not clear which charges Mora will face once captured.
Iglesia-Martinez was being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a $40,000 bond.