FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Police say a Decatur couple is behind an elaborate car theft scheme that spans at least five metro counties.
A Roswell auto broker told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik he is one of the victims, and police credit him with helping to catch the suspects, Celeste Dixon and Ambrose Starks.
“They sent us some information on their vehicle,” said Bill Coleman, owner of Car Buyer USA. “We made an offer on their vehicle. They decided to bring the vehicle in to have us look at it.”
Coleman told Petchenik the couple did not appear suspicious and sold him a used Mercedes.
“We checked all the paperwork, all the documentation. It was all legitimate,” said Coleman. “We gave them a check. They went and cashed that check.”
A few days later, Coleman said when they went to check a national insurance crime database, they learned the car had been stolen.
“When we bought the vehicle it was not, so they were taking advantage of a lag of the reporting of vehicle history reports,” said Coleman.
Coleman said he notified police and a few weeks later, Dixon contacted him again about selling another car. So he said they set up a sting with police, who arrested the couple after they sold another stolen car.
“We were very proud we were able to help the police catch them and prevent them from doing this to others,” said Coleman. Marietta used car dealer Sirous Roshan told Petchenik the couple bought a used car from him using a fake money order for more than $5,000.
“Very frustrated that things like this happen,” said Roshan. “The car is gone. We are hoping one day they might find it.” Roswell police said their department is working with investigators in Cobb, Gwinnett, Paulding and Clayton counties on similar cases.
“She’s purchasing the cars under a fictitious name and has a bogus cashier’s check,” said Officer Lisa Holland. “Everything looks real and legitimate, the people think they sold the car and off she goes.”
Holland said people who are selling via Craigslist, as some of the victims did, need to make sure the buyer has a legitimate check.
“We always recommend you go to the bank together, with the buyer and the seller and cash the check,” said Holland. “Somebody did suggest that to her, they wanted to take her to the bank with them, and she backed out of the deal.”