Undercover Agents Bust Luxury Car Fraud Scheme

Undercover operators with the San Diego County District Attorney's Regional Auto Theft Taskforce have arrested Robert Childress Jr. and seized a half-million dollars-worth of stolen luxury cars, they say, he intended to sell to unsuspecting customers.

NBC 7 Investigates was alongside agents when they towed the stolen cars to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department station Tuesday. Investigators say Childress was hiding the vehicles in plain sight near Lincoln High School in different neighborhood cul-de-sacs.

“There wasn’t anything for anyone to suspect. It just looked like somebody who has nice cars,” said Officer Hope Maxson with California Highway Patrol. “Here’s an individual who’s preying on a lot of innocent people.”

Court documents obtained by NBC 7 Investigates show charges against Childress include bank fraud. According to the documents, he’s accused of using his girlfriend’s credit to buy eight luxury vehicles. He then “washed the titles” meaning he fraudulently removed the lienholders from the documents. 

Childress did this, investigators said, to sell the stolen cars to unsuspecting customers across the country and in San Diego.

During Tuesday’s bust, agents retrieved five 2016 Jeep Rubicons, two 2016 Land Rovers, a 2013 Mercedes AMG and a Maserati.

Investigators say some red flags of a fraudulent car title include:

  • Ink on the title document looks faded
  • Numbers and words on the title are crooked or printed on top of other writing
  • If the car is brand new, the mileage is low and there’s no lienholder (it’s very rare for someone to pay cash for a luxury car)

Childress is expected back in court for a preliminary hearing Oct. 14.

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