LAS VEGAS – Compliance Enforcement officers from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles arrested three Las Vegas men in connection with an alleged scam involving illegal lien sales of vehicles. The five vehicles involved have a combined value of over $328,000 and include two high-end exotic vehicles.
“Falsifying title documents and fraudulently obtaining ownership of a vehicle through a lien sale is the same as stealing it,” according to J.D. Decker, Chief of the DMV Compliance Enforcement Division (CED). Under a lien sale, a licensed body shop or garage is allowed to conduct an auction of a vehicle to recoup monies due when a vehicle owner fails to pay for repairs. The business must follow strict procedures and must sell the vehicle to a third party.
All three men charged in the case are Las Vegas residents. They were arrested March 17 and 18 and booked into the Clark County Detention Center. The suspects could face prison terms of one to 20 years, fines of up to $15,000 and restitution if convicted of the most serious charges.
Yousef Hammoudeh, 61, was arrested and charged with two felony counts of obtaining money under false pretenses, two felony counts of attempted obtaining money under false pretenses, and five gross misdemeanor counts of furnishing falsified title documentation to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Suleiman Showbaki, 36, owner of S & M Auto Body, was arrested and charged with two felony counts of attempted obtaining money under false pretenses and three gross misdemeanor counts of furnishing falsified title documentation to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Eric Brambila, 46, owner of Sharp Transmission, was arrested and charged with two felony counts of obtaining money under false pretenses and two gross misdemeanor counts of furnishing falsified title documentation to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
CED investigators say Showbaki and Brambila allegedly falsified work orders for repairs, then illegally sold the five vehicles to Hammoudeh for profit. Fraudulent repair orders were used to complete lien sales for these vehicles even though work was never done. Falsified title requests were then sent to the DMV in an alleged attempts to obtain legal ownership of the vehicles in the name of Hammoudeh.
Three additional vehicles were impounded during Hammoudeh’s arrest. CED investigators found those vehicles were being personally used by Hammoudeh and his family members in Nevada using California dealer license plates that he had obtained through a dealership he owns there.
The DMV Compliance Enforcement Division has 29 sworn law enforcement officers and 14 non-sworn investigators who investigate all types of criminal activity related to DMV-issued identification documents or motor vehicle transactions. CED also licenses businesses in the motor vehicle industry, emissions stations and driving schools.
Consumers who believe they have been victims of fraud or theft in DMV-related crimes can file a complaint using forms available on the DMV website contact the Division at dmvnv.com/ced.htm.
Decker says the Compliance Enforcement Division is currently targeting motor vehicle businesses who defraud the public by abusing the lien sale process, illegal street use of special dealer and repair shop plates, and Nevada residents who illegally maintain out-of-state plates on their vehicles.