General Crime San Francisco Bay Area

Yujen Chen and Maria Chen Get Prison for Fraud, ID Theft Involving Their Auto Dealership

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A Cupertino couple who owned a Sunnyvale auto dealership was sentenced earlier this week to prison sentences for identity theft and wire fraud convictions, federal prosecutors said. Yujen Chen, 61, was sentenced Monday to 75 months in prison and Maria Chen, 59, received a 64-month sentence from U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose for a case involving their dealership 888 Auto Corporation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said the pair used their business to fraudulently lease luxury vehicles, including ones from Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Toyota, then exported them to other countries. The Chens recruited friends and associates to serve as lessees on vehicles and sometimes paid them to lease the cars on the Chens’ behalf, then promised they would assume the lease payments and that the lessees would not be financially responsible, prosecutors said.

They then identified foreign purchases for the leased vehicles, falsified DMV paperwork indicating a transfer of title, and ceased making payments on the leased vehicles, leaving the lessees on the hook financially and with no car, prosecutors said. The Chens also used stolen identities in the latter stages of the scheme.

They were originally charged in a 24-count indictment in November 2013 and pleaded guilty on Dec. 17, 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, prosecutors said. The judge also gave the pair, who are currently out of custody on bond, a term of three years of supervised release after their prison sentence. They will return to court on March 2 for a restitution hearing for the purpose of repaying the victims in the case.

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