Stockton Man Charged with Fraud in Auto Engine Scam
SACRAMENTO, CA—Stockton resident John Steven Keplinger, 56, was charged today with five counts of mail fraud in connection with an auto parts scam, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, from 2010 to 2014, Keplinger carried out a fraud scheme by purporting to sell used auto engines from Japan, but failing to provide customers what he promised. Over 300 paying customers across 44 states and the District of Columbia were defrauded. Keplinger used three companies and websites to carry out the fraud scheme: Rising Sun Engines Inc. (www.risingsunengines.com), Shop 4 Engines LP (shop‑4‑engines.com), and Your Parts Manager (yourpartsmanager.com). Most of the time, Keplinger’s customers paid by check sent via UPS. After Keplinger accepted payment, he either sent no engine at all or sent the customer a defective engine obtained in the United States, often from a junkyard. United States Customs and Border Protection records indicate that Keplinger had stopped importing engines in 2007. The total estimated loss from Keplinger’s fraud is approximately $470,000.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office and the California Bureau of Automotive Repair. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher S. Hales is prosecuting the case.
Keplinger is currently in state custody in San Joaquin County.
If convicted, Keplinger faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.