Dealer Sentenced to 15 Years for Identity Theft
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The owner of Edge Auto Sales, an auto dealership with locations in Blue Springs and Independence, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for multiple felony convictions related to an extensive identify theft scheme he ran out of his dealerships.
Morrow acquired personal identifying information about his victims through their applications for auto financing, according to Attorney General Chris Koster and Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker. Morrow used the victims' information to forge dozens of fraudulent auto loans for car sales that never occurred. He then sold those fraudulent loans to automotive finance companies, who bought the rights to collect on the loans for a lump sum payment to Morrow.
The Missouri Attorney General began investigating Morrow in 2012 after receiving a tip from a consumer who discovered a fake car loan on her credit report.
In addition to Edge Auto, the attorney general's office discovered that Morrow fabricated the existence of a dealership in Kansas City, forging documents so that it appeared to be owned and operated by one of his Edge Auto victims. Morrow also created fake loans through this fictitious dealership.
In 2012, Morrow created another dealership, Silver Star Motors, in Illinois. Through this new dealership, Morrow reused identities of his Jackson County victims in addition to selecting new victims in Illinois to continue his scam. An Illinois consumer checking his credit report also discovered a fraudulent car loan and alerted authorities there.
In April, Morrow pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of forgery, nine felony counts of deceptive business practices and two felony counts of identity theft. On Thursday, the judge sentenced him to 15 years on each of the two identity theft counts, seven years on each of the nine forgery counts, and four years on each of the counts for deceptive business practices. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently and Morrow was credit with approximately a year for time served. The Missouri Attorney General's Office assisted Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker in the prosecution.
Koster said that his office identified at least 44 Missouri victims and approximately $1.125 million of fraudulent loans, which Morrow sold to four automotive finance companies for approximately $478,000 in cash.
"Terry Morrow perpetrated the most extensive identity theft scheme ever prosecuted in Missouri and the sentence handed down today reflects the severity of his crimes," Koster said. "His scheme was discovered because consumers checked their credit reports and found loans they had not taken out. Without that consumer vigilance there is no telling how many more victims there might have been."
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