A 25-year-old former Kansas City man is facing 17 felony charges accusing him of using people's personal information he received at his Jackson County car dealership to create more than $1 million in fake car loans and pocket nearly half of it from the scam.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said it's the largest case of identity theft the state has ever prosecuted.
"Mr. Morrow stole the identities of 44 people in Jackson County, MO," Koster said. "These 44 Jackson County residents may not be the only ones. That's why we are urging others who had any businesses with Edge Auto or may have filled out information on the Edge Auto website."
Koster said Terry Lee Morrow Jr. used personal information of people in Jackson County who did business with Edge Motors in Blue Springs and Independence or filled out financing information on its website. The dealership that is currently located in its place along U.S. Highway 40 in Blue Springs is not involved in the scandal.
"Thankfully we've been able to negotiate with all four auto companies to take these credit reports and clean up their credit reports," Koster said.
Police said Morrow used the identities of others to create fake car loans. Then he would sell those loans to auto financing companies and pocket the money.
One of the victims caught up in the scam says it almost ruined her life.
It's always been a struggle for Victoria Calvillo raising three daughters on her own, but it got worse when she was denied a loan to replace a wrecked car.
"He's like, 'I can't get you a loan.' And I said, 'Excuse me?' He's like, 'I can't get you a loan. You have a $29,000 loan out there.' And I was like, 'There's no way.'" Calvillo said.
She embarked on an investigation then called the Missouri Attorney General's Office.
The former car dealer was able to keep this scam going on for more than a year. State prosecutors said his scam would have gone undetected if people like Calvillo had not checked their credit report and noticed something odd.
Calvillo' s credit has finally been restored, but not without a cost.
"I lost my job and it took a year and a half to file all the paperwork to credit bureaus and get it straightened out," Calvillo said.
After four months without work, she now has two jobs, nearby, to make up for the one, better paying job she couldn't get to without a car.
She says she's a little angry about the idea of someone robbing her of the benefit of her hard work, but she's accepted that anger won't fix it. But she is glad to see someone caught.
"We've been able to stem the damage, but a lot of people don't look at their credit reports annually. We're asking people, if they had any contact with Morrow, to check for a crime they may not even know about right now," Koster said.
Morrow is being held in DeKalb County, IL, after he was arrested in Illinois. Koster said he opened another fake dealership using one of his victim's names and committed the same type of identity theft.
The attorney general says he wants Morrow to be tried in Missouri first. If convicted, he faces 10 to 30 years to life in prison.
It was unclear Tuesday if Morrow had an attorney.
Koster urges anyone who did business with Edge Motors to call his office at 1-800-392-8222.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Thursday, July 31 2014 11:57 AM EDT2014-07-31 15:57:19 GMT
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