Essex County man charged in large-scale car theft scheme

NEWARK, NJ — An Essex County man has been arrested and charged with running a large, multistate car theft and fraud ring, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced July 8.

Warren Guerrier, 43, of Newark, was arrested by special agents of the FBI and is charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. 

According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from November 2016 to March 2019, Guerrier and several conspirators participated in a scheme to sell stolen vehicles through internet-based marketplaces, such as Craigslist and OfferUp. For each fraudulent transaction, Guerrier and his conspirators scouted out vehicles, which they intended to steal and sell, at apartment complexes, hotels or shopping centers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland. Once a desirable vehicle was selected, Guerrier and his conspirators photographed the target vehicle and attached a GPS tracker to the vehicle in order to acquire a pattern-of-life of the original owner. Guerrier and his conspirators then listed the target vehicles for sale on an internet-based marketplace. They communicated with potential purchasers and, upon identifying a purchaser, scheduled a meeting time and location to meet in person. Shortly before the scheduled meeting times, the conspirators returned to the target vehicles with unlawfully obtained valet keys and stole the vehicles. The scheme targeted mostly older model vehicles made by Honda or Acura because valet keys for such vehicles were easier to access. At Guerrier’s direction, one of the conspirators personally met the purchasers, while posing as the original owner of the vehicle, and provided the purchasers with the unlawfully obtained valet key, at least one fraudulent motor vehicle registration document and the stolen vehicle in exchange for cash.

Overall, the scheme to defraud involves more than 30 stolen vehicles, of which 29 were sold to unwitting buyers. Guerrier and his conspirators collected $217,650 from unwitting buyers over the course of the conspiracy.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense, and the aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison, which must be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed.

The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty.