Indictment Unsealed Charging Four from El Reno with Conspiracy and Wire Fraud Related to Vehicle Cash Rebate Scheme
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—Today, a federal grand jury indictment was unsealed charging RICHARD M. ARNOLD, SR. (a/k/a/ “Rick Arnold”), 60, RICHARD M. ARNOLD, II, (a/k/a/ “Ricky Arnold”), 28, ROBERT W. ARNOLD, 25, and ROBYN R. ARNOLD, 55, all from El Reno, Oklahoma, with conspiracy to defraud new car purchasers out of cash rebates based on false representations that a charitable trust would make the victims’ monthly car payments, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
According to the indictment, 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.”
It is alleged that Rick, Ricky 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. The indictment alleges that in some instances, the defendants caused victims’ loan applications to include fraudulently inflated income. It is also alleged that these defendants told the car buyers that the rebate money would have to be given to the defendants for deposit into the trust, which would then pay the buyers’ car loans in their entirety.
After the car purchases were complete, it is alleged that 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 and deposited the money into bank accounts controlled by Robyn Arnold. It is further alleged that the defendants asked buyers to sign powers of attorney as well as proposed agreements advising the buyers that the association’s chances of success would increase relative to the buyers’ success in referring new participants to the program.
When the defendants failed to make the car loan payments as promised, various lenders notified buyers of potential defaults. When the buyers asked for explanations, it is alleged that Rick and Ricky Arnold assured the buyers that the payments would be made or that the trust would be unable to make further payments unless the buyers recruited additional participants.
The indictment charges all four defendants with conspiracy. Rick Arnold is charged with 9 counts of wire fraud, Ricky Arnold is charged with 8 counts of wire fraud, and Robert Arnold is charged with one count of wire fraud. The indictment also seeks forfeiture in the amount of the proceeds of the offenses. Each count of conspiracy and wire fraud carries up to 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine, in addition to up to five years of supervised release. If convicted, the defendants will also be required to pay restitution to individual victims and financial institutions. Reference is made to the indictment and court record for further information. The public is reminded that each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
All four defendants were arrested before 7:00 a.m. today at their El Reno residences and were released on bonds after appearing before United States Magistrate Judge Gary Purcell this afternoon in Oklahoma City.
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.