HOUSTON — A teen has been charged in connection with an elaborate scheme in which police said he bought and sold multiple vehicles using a fake ID and fake money.
The family said they were looking for a car and found a Tesla they thought was a perfect fit. But, they said when the car was delivered, investigators came knocking.
Ali Momin said at first it seemed like everything checked out.
“The way I met him, he looked very professional,” Momin said. “He knew his business terms. He said he had an investment company.”
The person selling the Tesla S had him convinced. Momin even met him at a Houston bank and said he put down 50% on the $120,000 car and verified with Tesla the teen was the owner. He got the keys and shipped the car to a relative in Atlanta. Then came the surprise.
“Local police authorities show up to his house and say this car was reported ... it was paid by someone using a fraudulent account,” Momin said.
HPD has charged a 17-year-old with three felonies, including theft. The teen's social media photos show him posing with cars that are now part of the investigation. KHOU 11 News is choosing not to identify the teen beyond his first name of Cole, due to his age.
“That’s what made this case so shocking to me was his age," HPD Sgt. Darren Schlosser said. "He had recently turned 17."
Schlosser said the teen was involved in a complex scheme in which he bought and sold Teslas, Corvettes and an Escalade with fake money and a fake identity.
“He purchased two cars fraudulently from dealerships in Houston then he sold those cars to individuals -- one in California and one in Atlanta," Schlosser said. “So far what we have are Teslas, Corvettes and an Escalade."
The teen is accused of using that money to buy other vehicles, police said. The total was close to $600,000 and five cars in the case.
Momin's family is now out the $60,000 down payment and they're left with no car to show for it. They're currently fighting the bank, hoping for reimbursement.
“It shook my soul a little bit. A 17-year-old guy ... I’m 38 ... basically, how easily someone can fool you,” Momin said.
Cole is in custody and has charges pending in at least one other county. Since some of those cases were filed when he was considered a juvenile, those cases are sealed. KHOU 11 News called Cole's parents on Thursday night but was unable to reach them.