Attorney General James And NYPD Commissioner Take Down Interstate Luxury Vehicle Theft Ring And More

October 14, 2022

New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant Sewell today announced the takedown of a luxury vehicle theft ring and fraudulent credit card operation in New York City.

As outlined in the indictment, four individuals are charged with 76 counts for their roles in the auto theft and export operation. During a three-year joint investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) and NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division, law enforcement uncovered a scheme in which these individuals used stolen credit card information and stolen identifications to steal high-end vehicles from residences and rental car lots in New York and other states. After stealing the rental vehicles, the members of this theft ring drove the stolen vehicles into the greater New York City area, leaving them for a period of time to “cool off.” Crew members then drove the vehicles to South Florida where the stolen cars were loaded into shipping containers headed to West Africa to be sold.

These same individuals also defrauded luxury hotels and clothing stores in New York City by purchasing thousands of dollars in goods and services using fake identifications. The defendants are being charged with various counts of criminal possession of stolen property, identity theft, grand larceny, and other crimes.

“We are slamming the breaks on this dangerous luxury vehicle theft ring that defrauded New York businesses and individuals,” said Attorney General James. “These fraudsters stole high-end cars to sell abroad and today they are being held accountable for the harm they have caused. Today’s takedown is a continuation of our efforts to make our streets safer and protect New Yorkers from fraud and theft.”

New York City will not tolerate any form of lawlessness, and this once sophisticated theft ring not only harmed public safety but also undermined our local economy,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “We were proud to partner with Attorney General James in announcing operation ‘Treasure Steals’ earlier this year and arrest these bad actors. Today’s announcement is a testament to the strength of the ongoing partnership between the NYPD, the Office of the Attorney General, and other local law enforcement entities, and their ability to bring organized criminal enterprises to justice.”

“This years-long, the multistate investigation is a perfect example of how public safety is most definitely a shared responsibility,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “These wide-ranging charges show how complex this criminal enterprise was, and this case exemplifies our collective effort to bring these criminals to justice. I want to thank the New York Attorney General’s Office and all of our law enforcement partners for their tireless dedication and exceptional work.”

Today’s takedown was a result of a three-year joint investigation conducted by OAG’s OCTF and NYPD’s Manhattan Grand Larceny Division. The investigation — dubbed Operation “Gone in 60 Seconds” — utilized court-authorized wiretapping, multi-state physical surveillance, and financial analysis to identify the stolen vehicles, stolen credit card information, and identities used in this interstate scheme. 

The OAG’s investigation alleges, that since 2018, defendant Salimou Dabo managed this vehicle theft and export operation and provided fraudulent identification documents and stolen credit card information to co-defendants Tamek Skinner and Jayvon Moore, which they used to steal specific vehicles based on sales trends in West Africa. During the course of this investigation, Dabo, Skinner, and Moore targeted nine SUV models, including Land Rover, Range Rover, Mercedes, Infiniti, and Toyota, with a combined value of approximately $423,000. In an effort to erase the vehicles’ true origin, Dabo and his co-conspirators altered the vehicle identification numbers on five of the nine vehicles in preparation for their export, and used fraudulent, stolen identities to register and insure the vehicles. Dabo directed Skinner and Moore to transport the stolen vehicles from the theft locations to shipping yards, located in South Florida, where the vehicles would be loaded into 40-foot shipping containers, destined for the West African country of Guinea. Dabo disguised the contents of the shipping containers by documenting false vehicle identification numbers and vehicle descriptions. 

The investigation further alleges, that Tony Blathers created and supplied fraudulent credit cards and credit card information, as well as fraudulent identification documents to Dabo and Skinner, to bolster this operation. Wire communications between Blathers and Dabo revealed discussions related to matching fraudulent credit cards to “faces” or stolen identifications and Blather’s creation of fraudulent credit cards that would “beat the light,” referring to circumventing ultraviolet light security checks at Hertz rental counters, in an effort to circumvent any detection of a stolen credit card. 

The investigation also revealed that Dabo, Skinner, and Moore used the stolen credit card information, fraudulent credit cards, and fraudulent identification documents provided by Blathers to steal more than $16,500 worth of goods or services from New York City area retailers and hotels. 

The indictment, unsealed today before New York County Acting Supreme Court Justice Cori Weston, charged the individuals with various counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Identity Theft, Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, and other crimes in relation to their involvement in the auto-theft and export operation and the fraudulent credit card operation.

Those charged in today’s unsealed indictment include:

  • Salimou Dabo, 37, Guinea
  • Tamek Skinner, 28, New York, NY
  • Jayvon Moore, 28, New York, NY
  • Tony Blathers, 60, Brooklyn, NY

The charges against the defendants are accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

In addition to law enforcement partners, Attorney General James would like to thank the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force, specifically Agent Michael Dealmeida, for his long-term assistance on this investigation.

The OAG thanks the Hertz Corporation, CMC Investments, Inc., and Todd Investment Co. doing business as Dollar, and all of OAG’s retail partners in this investigation.

The OAG extends a special thanks to Detective Thomas Moran of the Pembroke Pines Police Department, who provided long-term investigative collaboration and resources to the investigative team. 

This joint OCTF-NYPD investigation was directed by NYPD Detective Brian Deighan, retired Sergeant Michael Korabel, NYPD Detective Vincent Catalano, OCTF Detective Brian Fleming, OCTF Detective Mary Laspina, and OCTF Detective Rachel Muzichenko.

OCTF Detectives Fleming and Laspina are under the supervision of Detective Supervisor Paul Grzegorski; OCTF Detective Muzichenko is under the supervision of Detective Supervisor Cheryl Munoz; all of which are under the supervision of OCTF Acting Deputy Chief Andrew Boss. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Investigator Oliver Pu-Folkes. 

During the active investigation, NYPD Detective Deighan was under the supervision of retired Lieutenant Michael Burke of the Manhattan Grand Larceny Division. The Manhattan Grand Larceny Division is currently under the supervision of Sergeants Fredy Cruz and Matthew Doherty, Lieutenant Gabriel Zambrano, Captains Brian Eng, Patrick Davis, Tawee Theanthong, and Eddie Lau, and Deputy Inspector Nicholas Fiore. 

The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney Brandi S. Kligman, with support from OCTF Legal Support Analyst Christine Cintron under the supervision of OCTF Downstate Deputy Bureau Chief Lauren Abinanti. Nicole Keary is the Deputy Attorney General in Charge of OCTF. The Division for Criminal Justice is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General José Maldonado. Both the Investigations Division and the Division for Criminal Justice are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

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