Federal Jury Convicts Organizer of $4.3 Million Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – After a three-day trial, a federal jury convicted James Pinson, 46, of Pritchard, Wayne County, West Virginia, of three counts of wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and two counts of conspiring to commit money laundering. Pinson was the owner of Big Blue Motor Sales, a Kentucky used car dealership.

Evidence at trial revealed that Pinson defrauded Toyota of over $4.3 million in connection with a Toyota Customer Support Program. To carry out his scheme, Pinson bought Toyota trucks at wholesale prices at auction, obtained hundreds of copies of Kentucky and West Virginia residents’ driver’s licenses, fraudulently titled the trucks in the name of those residents, and fraudulently induced Toyota to repurchase the trucks at 150% of their retail value. Toyota issued 350 checks in the names of individual false owners between 2013 and 2015. Pinson forged signatures on all 350 checks and deposited them into his bank account. Pinson then used the money from this fraud scheme to buy more Toyota trucks at wholesale to run through the scheme. He also paid cash bribes to a service manager at a Toyota dealership and a representative of the company that Toyota hired to administer the Customer Support Program. Pinson further used the criminally-derived money from the fraud scheme to purchase a beach house in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina.

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“The excellent work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia Office of the Insurance Commissioner and the National Insurance Crime Bureau resulted in this defendant being brought to justice,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson.  “I congratulate Assistant United States Attorneys Steven I. Loew and Andrew J. Tessman and the entire trial team for obtaining this guilty verdict.”

Pinson faces up to 22 years in prison plus a mandatory two-year sentence resulting from his aggravated identity theft conviction when he is sentenced on March 3, 2022. Pinson also will be required to pay restitution of up to $4.3 million to Toyota, and all property connected to the scheme is subject to forfeiture.

United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin presided over the trial.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:19-CR-00250.

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