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Reputed gang members indicted in stolen rental car scheme

Sixteen reputed members and associates of the Yung Money/Yung Gunz Bloods street gang stole rental vehicles in Nevada and other states, sold the cars for cash, and then bragged about their crimes on social media, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Las Vegas.

The 13-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury last week, charges 16 men with wire fraud, conspiracy to transport stolen vehicles, sale or receipt of stolen vehicles, and related counts. It focuses on alleged criminal activity that occurred from July 2015 to April 2017 in Nevada, California, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, and Florida.

Authorities arrested the defendants, all of whom are Texas natives, in Houston and Atlanta. They are accused of using fraudulent personal identification documents to obtain debit cards, which they used to rent vehicles from various car rental companies. Then they would transfer the vehicles across state lines and create false titles, inspection reports, and bills of sale before listing the stolen vehicles on Craigslist and other internet sites. They allegedly sold the vehicles for cash at a lower price than the car’s actual value.

For example, in 2015, defendants Channing Williams, 27, and Maurice Lewis, 22, are accused of stealing a 2006 Ford F-250 in Las Vegas and selling it for $12,500. The car’s approximate value was $21,364. A year later, Williams and Casey Walters, 25, allegedly stole a 2016 Ford F-150 from an Enterprise rental car location in Las Vegas, then sold it on Craigslist in California for $10,000 less than the vehicle’s approximate value. Other vehicles were stolen from Hertz or Enterprise rental companies in California and then sold in Nevada.

More than 30 stolen cars were referenced in the indictment, which estimates the total value of the stolen vehicles to be over $1 million.

The reputed gang members allegedly used Twitter and Instagram to communicate about their criminal activities.

The defendants “posted comments on social media sites such as Instagram, bragging about their criminal activities, and including posting photographs of themselves possessing large amounts of unlawfully obtained cash,” the indictment states.

The defendants are expected to be extradited to U.S. District Court in Nevada for prosecution. Federal prosecutors also are seeking a court order that would require the defendants to forfeit at least $1.05 million in funds as compensation for their crimes.

Contact Jenny Wilson at jenwilson@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Follow @jennydwilson on Twitter.

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