MIAMI – Ten people, including a Miami Beach police officer, were charged in an elaborate operation that allegedly ripped off local credit unions, including Space Coast CU.
The scam also hit City & County CU, Peoples FCU and Postal CU.
Investigators said the fraud involved fake buyers, forged documents and a plan that repeatedly sent cars overseas so they could not be recovered.
Miami Beach police officer George Robert Navarro entered a not guilty plea to charges including racketeering, organized fraud, making false statements and illegal subleasing. He has been suspended from his duties.
Authorities say he was part of an elaborate scheme aimed at defrauding credit unions out of $500,000.
Charging documents indicate Navarro went with Marion Mayoli into a Lexus dealership in North Miami and was told by Mayoli to submit a misleading credit application. Mayoli spilled the beans on the operation after federal agents arrested him on a drug charge, authorities said.
Authorities said Navarro never actually took possession of the car – it was handed over to auto dealer Todd Smith, who sold it. Navarro allegedly defaulted on the loan and attempted to tell police the Lexus was stolen, authorities said. The lender lost more than $31,000, but the car was recovered.
Police said on some occasions cars were shipped out of the country through Port Everglades, but paperwork allegedly was created to make it appear as if the cars were in South Florida.
On another occasion, police said auto company owner obtained a fraudulent title to a Toyota. They say Navarro got a loan for the car that cost the lender more than $37,000. The original owner had shipped the car out of the county and it was never found.