A federal grand jury in Chicago, Illinois, returned an indictment, which was unsealed yesterday, charging three Illinois men with operating an odometer and title fraud scheme that involved hundreds of used cars over the course of many years.
According to court documents, Laith Ghzo, 36, of Oak Lawn, Hussein Ghzo, 40, of Palos Heights, and Musab Sawai, 35, of Worth caused the mileage of hundreds of used vehicles to be rolled back and altered title documents to reflect the false, low mileage. Those used vehicles were then sold to unsuspecting wholesale buyers and ultimately consumers, who paid more for those vehicles than they would have paid if they had known the truth about the vehicles’ mileages.
Laith Ghzo and Hussein Ghzo are charged with conspiracy to make counterfeit securities and commit mail fraud, making counterfeit securities and mail fraud. Musab Sawai is charged with conspiracy to make counterfeit securities and mail fraud. The defendants made their initial court appearances yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. If convicted, Laith Ghzo and Hussein Ghzo face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each mail fraud count, and Musab Sawai faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. for the Northern District of Illinois, Acting Inspector in Charge Kai Pickens of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Chicago Division and Acting Administrator Ann Carlson of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made the announcement.
The NHTSA Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations and the Postal Inspection Service are investigating the case.
Trial Attorneys Joshua D. Rothman and Thomas Rosso of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kartik K. Raman for the Northern District of Illinois are prosecuting the case.
NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud in the United States results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually and has established a special hotline to handle odometer fraud complaints. Individuals with information relating to odometer tampering should call (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-4761.
More information on odometer fraud is available on the NHTSA website https://one.nhtsa.gov/Vehicle-Safety/Odometer-Fraud and tips on detecting and avoiding odometer fraud are available at this page: www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nvs/pdf/811284.pdf.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.