LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - The Jones County Sheriff's Department continues to work with people who bought a car at Southeastern Auto Sales, LLC, in what is being considered one of the largest fraud investigations in the county.
Perry Taylor, 60, and Casey Pitts, 33, are charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit fraud through car lot on Highway 15 in Laurel. According to court documents, Taylor and Pitts are accused of conspiring with each other and unknown persons to defraud customers, banks and/or financial institutions.
Lt. Robert Little said the Sheriff's Department has received about 100 reports from concerned people, who purchased a car at the lot. Through those victims, Lt. Little said there are about 70 criminal offenses, rather than civil matters.
When Taylor and Pitts were arrested, Lt. Little said it was a "complex" case. According to the court documents in August, authorities were investigating activity including:
- Falsifying automobile bill of sales and title documents.
- Failing to submit automobile title information to required state agencies and financial institutions in a timely manner in order to disguise fraudulent activity.
- Misleading customers regarding whether vehicles that they purchased had existing liens.
Lt. Little said that is what he has seen from victims so far, with most dealing with cars that had existing liens on them. He said the investigators have also come across an individual buying a flooded car, without being told, as well as fake contracts that "appear to be an attempt to fool auditors."
"Sometimes we had multiple loans on one vehicle, like two loans taken out on one bank," Little said.
Little said Taylor had a number of car titles and tags registered in his name, which stayed in his name after selling the cars. He said he came across one victim, on accident, who said he had heard about the investigation but was scared to report his situation.
"We also believe we have victims who have not come forward based on fears we are going to take the vehicle from them or they have done something wrong," Little said.
He said he came across one victim, on accident, who said he had heard about the investigation but was scared to report his situation. Lt. Little said those victims may be worried about legal documentation or other issues.
"It's not too late to come forward. If you've been concerned about coming forward, or hesitant to come forward, you still can come forward, bring us the information and we will look at it," said Little. "We'll determine if a criminal offense has happened or it's a civil matter, if a criminal offense occurred we will include it in our files being prepared for the District Attorney."