$1M Houston-area auto theft ring leaves immigrants scammed

Markets Associated Press

Officials say nine people have been indicted in a more than $1 million Houston-area auto theft ring targeting dealers and unsuspecting immigrants who bought the stolen vehicles online.

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The Harris County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday said eight people were arrested on charges including theft, money laundering, credit fraud and engaging in organized crime. A sheriff's statement says the suspects preyed on Spanish-speaking recent immigrants via social media.

Officers raided eight locations and recovered items including tools to create car and truck keys, plus title documents related to the fraudulent sale of stolen vehicles.

Authorities estimate more than two dozen dealers lost at least $787,000 in property, with 29 vehicles stolen. At least 27 buyers were out about $229,000.