Kevin G. Hall/McClatchy/MCT

$1.7M auto loan scheme lands metro Atlanta men in prison

A pair of metro Atlanta men have been sentenced for helping run an automotive financing scheme that spanned four years.

Starting in 2015, the group of several men fraudulently siphoned $1.7 million from banks and credit unions, prosecutors announced Friday

Michael Miller, a 58-year-old Sandy Springs man, was sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison on Thursday, according to court records. Giovanni “Riq” Cartier, a 55-year-old Austell man, in June got four years and nine months.

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Along with several others, Miller and Cartier were charged with bank fraud conspiracy because they registered fake auto dealerships with names like “Premier Luxury Motors” with the secretary of state’s office, according to an indictment. But they were just shell companies.

The fraudsters would then apply for car loans saying they were buying vehicles from the shell companies.

Loan checks would go into bank accounts of the fake companies, then those in charge of the scheme and the loan applicants would then split the money but never pay back the lender, prosecutors said.

There were no cars to repossess, so lenders were left with nothing.

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Those running the con sought to get $2.7 million through more than 80 auto loans. In all, they netted $1.7 million, prosecutors said.

“This scam was designed to trick lenders, which in this case were mostly credit unions, into granting loans for sham car sales. While the businesses in their scheme may have been make-believe, the federal sentences they received are very real,” said U.S. Attorney B.J. Pak in the announcement.

Also implicated was Kirk Evans, a 46-year-old Ellenwood man. He got three years of probation with six months of home detention.

Miller faces five years of supervised release once he is done with prison. Cartier will have three years of supervised release after his prison term.

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