Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that former Hoboken, New Jersey, City Council president and attorney CHRISTOPHER CAMPOS was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 30 months in prison for fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in car loans. CAMPOS used approximately 20 straw buyers to purchase more than 200 new automobiles based on false representations that, among other things, the straw buyers would use the cars for their personal use when, in fact, CAMPOS and his co-conspirators obtained the vehicles in order to lease them as livery cabs. After a week-long trial, CAMPOS was found guilty on June 22, 2017, of bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni presided over that trial and imposed today’s sentence.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Christopher Campos, an attorney and former Hoboken City Council president, defrauded lenders out of millions of dollars. He put up straw buyers to obtain loans for ‘personal use’ cars that in fact comprised a fleet of over 200 vehicles leased to livery drivers. Campos has now received the significant sentence his crimes merit.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, Indictment, and the evidence presented in Court during the trial:
Between approximately October 2012 and September 2013, CAMPOS and his co-conspirator Julio Alvarez, among others, orchestrated a scheme to fraudulently obtain new automobiles that they intended to lease to livery cab drivers. In order to secure financing in connection with the purchase of these new cars, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators enlisted and aided individuals with good credit histories (“straw buyers”) to submit fraudulent car loan applications to numerous lenders. In order to obtain the new vehicles, CAMPOS and other co-conspirators sent straw buyers to several car dealerships located throughout the New York City area, where dealership employees helped straw buyers submit fraudulent loan applications.
The auto loan applications submitted by the straw buyers falsely represented that the vehicles would be used for the buyers’ personal use, rather than as part of the defendants’ leasing business. In addition, in many cases, the car loan applications misrepresented personal information about the straw buyers, including their incomes and assets. CAMPOS also caused financing applications to be sent to multiple financial institutions at the same time so that the lenders would not know that the straw buyers were incurring obligations to other lenders in connection with the purchase of multiple new automobiles.
In total, the scheme carried out by CAMPOS, Alvarez, and others involved approximately 20 straw buyers, the purchase of approximately 200 new vehicles, and ultimately resulted in lenders disbursing over $7,000,000 in fraudulently obtained car loans. Most of those loans ultimately went into default.
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Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Kim also thanked the National Insurance Crime Bureau (“NICB”), the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (“NYAIP”), and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles for their substantial assistance in the investigation and trial.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Dina McLeod, Sagar K. Ravi, and Niketh Velamoor are in charge of the prosecution.