LINCOLN PARK, Mich. (FOX 2) - Ricardo Perez is quite the used car salesman.
The 38-year-old was fired last July from Dick Scott – a dealership in Plymouth. But, he kept the title and his contact list – to blindside dozens of victims. Investigators say he posed as a salesman, preying on victims across the metro area.
FOX 2: "He’s working all kinds of angles?"
"Absolutely. Every angle he can cut, he’s doing it. We have at least four as of right now in Lincoln Park," said LP Police Chief Ray Watters.
Watters says there are 30 victims – and counting.
Investigators say the scheme goes like this: Perez, posing as a salesman with Dick Scott – offered lease pull aheads, or to take an old ride off someone’s hands, and get them into something new.
Instead of meeting at the dealership – he used being Covid safe to his advantage, meeting customers in parking lots to make the exchange.
He would end up reselling their car – never returning it to Dick Scott. In return, he would either re-sell the customer another vehicle he’d stolen.
Or: "He would actually go to dealerships and get vehicles but put them in their names and sign all the paperwork, sign their names," Watters said.
Then, he’d tell them – their payments are less than the actual dealership was charging.
"What he was telling him, was that the first three months were waived - so then they wouldn’t find out until months later that they were actually behind on a payment," said Watters.
Those late payment notices, people are receiving now, sending them in droves to local police departments, all alleged victims of Perez.
"The craziest thing is that most of all, it was word of mouth - he must have been a successful salesman at some point to get people to trust him," Watters said.
Even the dealership Dick Scott was a victim - the reason Perez was fired was for fraud and theft.
Perez was charged in Lincoln Park on Thursday, and will be shipped around to police stations all over Metro Detroit racking up charges along the way.
"We do have some of the vehicles that we are able to return back to some people," Watters said. "We are trying our best to work with those people because they are absolutely, 100 percent, the victims."
If you think you’re a victim – call your local police department. The agencies involved so far, are all sharing information to build cases against Perez.