Feds Park Internet Car Scam
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Two car thieves working a nationwide Internet scam are headed to jail and face restitution charges.
According to federal authorities, Christopher Sean Justin, 31, of Fayetteville, N.C., and April Bates, 23, of Gulfport, Miss., were sentenced on charges they traveled around the country between November 2004 and February 2005 advertising cars on various auto-related Web sites.
Justin claimed to be a member of the military trying to sell the cars before being shipped overseas. Victims usually sent cashiers checks to the couple, who would then cash the checks and leave the area without delivering any cars to their victims.
The pair took more than $60,000 from 29 victims.
FBI agents in Dayton, Ohio, obtained an arrest warrant for Justin and Bates on Feb. 17. On the same day, the Colorado State Highway Patrol stopped the couple near Georgetown, Colo., and arrested them after a computer check turned up the federal arrest warrant.
The U.S. Marshals Service brought them back to Dayton where Justin remained in custody. Bates was released on bond. Bates pled guilty on April 12 and Justin took a guilty plea guilty on Aug. 5 to a one-count indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
Justin received 18 months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. Bates was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. Both were ordered to pay restitution to victims in the amount of $60,206.
"This case reinforces the fact that people who buy goods over the Internet must exercise the same diligence and caution as they would if purchasing items from someone face-to-face," Gregory Lockhart, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said in a statement.