Three San Jose residents admitted to conspiracy charges this fall for running a car resale scheme that hit the Tri-Valley and elsewhere in the Bay Area in which they rolled back odometers and falsified documents for more than 75 older vehicles to make them seem lesser-used to unsuspecting online buyers, according to federal authorities.
Ramil Heydarov and Orkhan Aliyev each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Oct. 27, 15 days after co-defendant Seymur Khalilov entered a guilty plea in court to the same charge as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. The crimes included multiple victims in San Ramon.
Under the terms of the plea agreements, the defendants could combine to pay more than $1 million in restitution. They also face a maximum of 20 years each in prison when sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in February, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.
"We are incredibly proud of the investigative efforts taken by the San Ramon Police Department members, especially the primary investigator, Detective Wickman. Their diligence and expertise were instrumental in holding these defendants accountable for their criminal actions," San Ramon police Capt. Denton Carlson told the Weekly.
The defense attorneys could not be immediately reached for comment.
The three-year-plus scheme, which unraveled due to an investigation involving local, state and federal law enforcement, saw the three defendants purchase well-kept high-mileage vehicles through the internet and then illegally roll back the odometers, alter vehicle documentation and resell the vehicles via Craigslist at higher prices because they were made to appear newer, prosecutors said.
"According to the plea agreements, the co-conspirators sold at least 78 vehicles with rolled back odometer readings, resulting in a total loss to the victims of greater than $550,000," prosecutors said.
In addition to doctoring odometers, the operation -- which ran at least from October 2017 to December 2020 -- included altering vehicle registrations and titles as well as using fake driver's licenses containing their photographs but the names of prior owners to facilitate the sales, according to authorities.
Khalilov, 32; Heydarov, 31; and Aliyev, 32, were formally charged in a single criminal complaint in May.
Prosecutors noted that in their plea deals, the trio agreed to pay restitution to the victims at levels reflecting their respective roles in the scheme -- Heydarov at $379,235, Aliyev at $196,578 and Khalilov at a variable amount to be settled by the judge, between $360,000 and $534,072.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled before Illston on Feb. 4. In addition to the restitution, the charge carries a maximum statutory prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.
Prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the investigation included San Ramon PD, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Division, the FBI, the California DMV Investigations Division in Vallejo and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations.