WINTER HAVEN — A Haines City woman has been arrested and another remains at large on fraud charges after trying to purchase vehicles from a car dealership under false pretenses, according to the Winter Haven Police Department.
Norma Castro, 48, and daughter Keisha Nichole Garcia-Castro, 23, each purchased vehicles from Winter Haven Honda, 6396 Cypress Gardens Blvd., on Jan. 27 — a 2018 Honda Accord and a 2017 Honda Pilot, police said. The combined value of the two vehicles was greater than $100,000.
The women, according to police, told the dealership that they were purchasing the vehicles for their Uber business. A credit application completed by Garcia-Castro returned as satisfactory, allowing the two women to leave with the cars, police said. Castro told the dealership in a later phone call that the two had planned to buy a third vehicle. They returned to the dealership at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 27 to pick up a second 2018 Honda Accord — this one valued at $42,958.
“All indications are they falsified the driver’s licenses,” police spokeswoman Jamie Brown said. “They falsified other people’s licenses to have their names on them.”
On Monday, the dealership was contacted by LifeLock, an identity theft protection firm, which advised the dealership that the information entered by Garcia-Castro had been flagged for identity theft. When Castro came in for a scheduled appointment Monday, police had already been contacted and were present at the dealership to apprehend her.
“The initial application, I’m told, was filled out by hand,” Brown said. “That may be why it would have taken LifeLock a few days to enter the information.”
The police report said Castro acknowledged to police that the two vehicles were at their Haines City home at 717 Garnette Ave., from where they were later towed and returned to Winter Haven Honda. A Honda that Castro drove to the dealership was also returned.
Castro told police that she had her daughter fill out the credit application, but she did not know what was on it. A search of Castro’s purse, police said, returned a cable bill in Garcia-Castro’s name along with other documents with names, birthdates and Social Security numbers. Castro told police that the documents belonged to family members, but she was unable to remember any of the names on the documents, the WHPD said.
Castro later said that she was holding the paperwork for her daughter, who told Castro the paperwork belonged to her friends, police said. Castro told police that she initially lied to protect her daughter.
Castro was taken to the Polk County Jail on charges of conspiracy to commit theft and three counts of possession of identification without consent. Garcia-Castro is wanted on charges of grand theft of more than $100,000 and obtaining property by fraud. Garcia-Castro is on probation for a fraud charge from April 2016.
Anyone with information on Garcia-Castro’s location is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-8477 (TIPS). Callers will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.
Mike Ferguson can be reached at Mike.Ferguson@theledger.com or 863-401-6981. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.