LONG ISLAND - Four men from Suffolk County have been arrested for allegedly selling fake temporary Texas license plates.
Omar Awan, 29, and Usman Awan, 22, both of Melville, along with Julio Borges, Jr., 26 of Bellport, and William Dunphy, 19, of Glen Cove, have each been charged with a single count of second-degree criminal possession of a false instrument. If convicted, they face up to seven years in prison.
"Anyone who fell victim to this scam should be aware that these plates are not valid and you should take immediate steps to get your vehicle properly insured and registered," District Attorney Timothy Sini said. "This is a matter of both keeping our roads safe and protecting residents from paying into these scams. Our investigation is ongoing, and we encourage anyone who has information on the sale of these plates to please contact law enforcement."
Dunphy was arraigned yesterday and is due back in court on March 18. Usman Awan and Omar Awan were arraigned on Feb. 17 and are due back in court on March 9. Borges was arraigned on Feb. 16 and is due back in court on March 8.
Authorities say that they launched an investigation between November 19 and December 8, 2020, after noticing an increased number of the license plates in the county.
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The suspects allegedly would obtain and illegally sell temporary Texas license plates to local buyers and would advertise them on social media, including on Craigslist and Facebook. They would accept payment for the license plates via apps like CashApp or in cash, and buyers would provide them with the vehicle identification number of their car, along with the make, model, and year in exchange for the temporary tag.
Undercover officers purchased the fake license plates from the suspects for roughly $100 to $150 apiece.
The temporary license plates can be generated online by licensed automobile dealers in Texas, but it's illegal for them to be given out not in connection with the sale of a car in Texas, and it is illegal for the tags to be sold or transferred.
An investigation is ongoing. District Attorney Sini is urging anyone with information on this alleged scheme to contact the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s Financial Investigations & Money Laundering Bureau by calling 631-853-4232 or by emailing InfoDA@suffolkcountyny.gov.