RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A Richmond man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in an Autotrader fraud scheme that caused over $575,000 in losses to the victims.
Court documents show John Baron Royal, 51, advertised high-end vehicles for sale on Autotrader.com, including Range Rovers, Mustangs, BMWs and Mercedes-Benz SUVs.
Royal used aliases to advertise the vehicles and to take payments from his victims. Officials said Royal never delivered the vehicles to the victims.
“Unwitting victims agreed to purchase the vehicles from Royal who promised that he would have the vehicles shipped to the victims’ desired locations. To conceal his role in the fraud, Royal used a number of aliases, supplied his accomplices with burner phones, and used technology to disguise his voice,” a release said.
When victims would complain about not receiving the vehicles, Royal and others at his direction would send messages to them saying that the vehicles would soon be delivered.
“In addition to these fraudulent misrepresentations, Royal sent pictures to the victims of fake and fraudulent documentation leading the victims to believe that Royal owned the vehicles for sale when, in fact, Royal did not own the vehicles. To further conceal his role in the fraud, Royal directed a number of other individuals to open bank accounts in the name of shell entities to receive the victims’ funds,” officials said.
Royal’s fraud was detected after he and another person falsely reported a vehicle stolen to the Leesburg Police Department. After making the false report, Royal and his associates moved to Atlanta.
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