A 29-year-old man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to stealing three high-end cars worth $207,000 in Orange County and Cerritos.
Huy Vu Jr. is charged with three counts of unlawful taking of a vehicle, and one count each of identity theft, making false financial statements and forging a driver’s license, all felonies. He also faces sentencing enhancement allegations of aggravated white-collar crime between $100,000 and $500,000.
His next court date is Nov. 1 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
Vu is allegedly among “a new wave” of car thieves who use identity theft and forged driver’s licenses to fraudulently buy cars, drive them off the lot and never make a payment, Deputy District Attorney Dan Hess of the Orange County Auto Theft Task Force said.
In some cases, thieves use social security numbers of dead people, fake numbers or the numbers of victims who have similar names, Hess said.
“In this case, he (Vu) found someone with a similar name and used his social security number and address,” the prosecutor said.
The victim called police to report that he did not buy a “Tony Stark Audi,” Hess said, referring to a 2018 Audi RS5.
Vu is also accused of stealing a 2019 Nissan 370Z and a 2018 Infiniti Q60, Hess said. Police recovered the Audi, but not the other two cars, he said.
Anyone with helpful information on the two missing cars was asked to call Detective Erik Tilove of the OCAT task force at (714) 532-9639.