Two arrested for auto tag fraud

March 12, 2009 4:01:15 PM PDT
An Action News investigation that aired on Monday night has now resulted in the arrests of two women in Hunting Park.They're accused of fraudulently providing nearly a thousand state vehicle registrations.

In our report, we exposed a problem with Pennsylvania's car registration system. The apparent flaw allows people to register their vehicles illegally - often by providing false addresses in Philadelphia - even though many of them live out of state.

For example, 26 vehicles are registered to one small row home on Willard Street, 16 are registered to a home on Kensington Avenue, and 13 are registered to a home on Margaret Street.

"As soon as we received that information, we began an active investigation into all 67 of those cases that were outlined in that document," Danielle Klinger of PennDOT said on Monday.

RELATED: Watch the report on Action News that lead to the arrests.

On Thursday, Lt. Anthony Civo of the Pennsylvania State Police said: "As a result of Channel 6's investigation and the DOT's awareness of what was going on, we were able to make two arrests in this issue."

State police say the mother and daughter, Theresa Lopez and Jasmine Torres, were the ringleaders of a scheme operated out of Rios Auto Tags on the 3300 block of North Fifth Street.

Authorities say Lopez and Torres falsified information for people who did not have the proper credentials to get PA tags. Police say the suspects then issued authentic registrations and plates based on that bogus information for $200 a piece.

"PennDot is in the process of going through these tags and they'll begin the process to terminate these tags," said Lt. Civo.

State Police say if you know Rios Auto Tags falsified information for your tags, you need to go to the state barracks immediately to put the correct information on record.

"You may face some charges but, on the other hand, if we come across you out on the road you'll definitely come before the law, your car will be towed, you'll be arrested, you'll be identified, and processed through the system," said Lt. Civo.

State Police have conducted audits of several other agencies and expect to arrest more people.

Meantime, a PennDOT official says the agency is still looking into whether any changes in procedure or policy may be necessary.

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