A Georgia man pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for his role in falsifying vehicle titles as part of a scheme to roll back odometers on used motor vehicles.
According to court documents between 2011 and 2013, Andrew O. Elphic, 52, of Monroe, engaged in a scheme to sell high-mileage and used vehicles with false and low-mileage readings entered on the vehicles’ odometers and titles. Elphic purchased high-mileage vehicles from auctions outside the State of Georgia, altered or arranged to alter the vehicles’ odometers to reflect false and lower mileage readings, and then altered the vehicles’ titles to reflect false lower mileages for the vehicles. He then submitted the altered titles to co-conspirators employed at a Georgia Motor Vehicle Division office and made cash payments to the employees in order to obtain new motor vehicle titles reflecting the false and lower mileages. Elphic then used the fraudulent titles with the lower odometer readings to sell the vehicles at an automobile auction in Atlanta. By deceiving purchasers into believing the vehicles had fewer miles, Elphic was able to sell the vehicles at inflated prices — thereby causing unsuspecting buyers to pay more for vehicles than they would have paid had the buyers known the true mileages.
Elphic’s scheme misrepresented the mileage to the Georgia Motor Vehicle Division on at least 305 vehicles, resulting in consumer losses of more than $550,000. Consumers who ultimately purchased the vehicles at dealerships did not know of the mileage discrepancies and, as a result, paid inflated sales prices.
“The Department of Justice will continue to work with law enforcement partners to prosecute unscrupulous individuals who deceive consumers purchasing used motor vehicles,” said Principal Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Misrepresenting used car mileages defrauds buyers and conceals significant information about the safety and reliability of these vehicles.”
“Our top priority is safety, and odometer fraud schemes not only scam consumers, but keep unsafe vehicles on our roads,” said Acting Administrator Ann Carlson of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “By actively prosecuting these crimes, we send a strong message that odometer scams, which affect the livelihood of Americans across this country, will not go unpunished. I thank our partners at the Department of Justice for working with us to deter odometer fraud.”
Elphic pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 24, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The NHTSA Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation investigated the case, with assistance from the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks and Trial Attorney Kathryn Schmidt of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. Krepp for the Northern District of Georgia prosecuted the case.
NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually. Individuals with information relating to odometer tampering should call NHTSA’s odometer fraud hotline at (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761.