Four El Reno Residents Convicted of Conspiracy in Fraudulent Vehicle Cash-Back Rebate Scheme
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—On Thursday, May 28, 2015, a jury returned guilty verdicts against ROBERT W. ARNOLD, 25, of El Reno, Oklahoma, on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. Three co-defendants—RICHARD M. ARNOLD SR. (a/k/a/ “Rick Arnold”), 61, RICHARD M. ARNOLD II, (a/k/a/ “Ricky Arnold”), 29, and ROBYN R. ARNOLD, 56, all of El Reno—pled guilty to conspiracy before trial. All were charged with conspiring to defraud new car purchasers out of cash rebates based on false representations that a charitable trust would make all of the victims’ monthly car payments.
The evidence at trial showed that from May of 2013 through April of 2014, the defendants informed their acquaintances, family members, and friends that they could become beneficiaries of a program operated by a charitable trust designed to help working people acquire new cars. The defendants claimed that “CECU Trust” financed the program, which was also called the “United Auto Buyers Co-op Association.”
Rick Arnold, Ricky Arnold, and Robert Arnold met car purchasers interested in the program at various car dealerships and arranged for purchases on credit that would include cash rebates to the buyers from $4,000 to $12,000 per car. In some instances, defendants caused victims’ loan applications to include fraudulently inflated income. Defendants told the car buyers that the rebate money would have to be given to the defendants for deposit into CECU Trust, which would then pay the buyers’ car loans in their entirety.
After the car purchases were complete, one or more of the defendants met the car buyers in a public place, such as a coffee shop or a bank, to receive the proceeds of the cash-back finance transactions. That money was deposited into bank accounts controlled by Robyn Arnold. Much of the money was used for personal expenses. Defendants also asked buyers to sign powers of attorney as well as proposed agreements advising the buyers that the association’s success depended on the buyers referring new participants to the program.
When various lenders notified buyers of potential defaults, defendants either assured the buyers that the payments would be made or stated that the trust would be unable to make further payments unless the buyers recruited additional participants.
A federal grand jury indicted all four defendants on December 3, 2014. On March 24, 2015, Ricky Arnold pled guilty to conspiracy. Rick Arnold and Robyn Arnold pled guilty to conspiracy on May 11, 2015; Rick Arnold also entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. A jury convicted Robert Arnold of conspiracy and wire fraud after hearing more than two days of testimony.
The maximum penalty for the convictions against Rick Arnold, Ricky Arnold, and Robyn Arnold is thirty years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a fine of $1,000,000. The maximum penalty for the convictions against Robert Arnold is twenty years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. All four defendants will be required to pay restitution to victims and to forfeit property up to the value of the proceeds of the offenses. Sentencings will take place in approximately 90 days.
Reference is made to court filings for further information.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Public Protection Unit of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott E. Williams and Kate Holey.