RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond man was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison for orchestrating an Autotrader fraud scheme that caused more than $575,000 in losses to the victims.
John Baron Royal, 51, advertised luxury vehicles for sale on Autotrader.com, including Range Rovers, BMWs, and Mercedes-Benz SUVs, according to court documents.
Those documents say Royal used different aliases to advertise the high-end vehicle, used burning phones to communicate with victims, and used technology to disguise his voice in order to conceal the fraudulent scheme.
After extracting money from the victim, Royal failed to ship the vehicles, which he did not own.
“When the victims complained about not receiving the vehicles, Royal and others at Royal’s direction, sent a series of lulling communications to the victims to convince them that delivery of their respective vehicles was imminent,” said the Department of Justice in a release. “Royal also directed one of his co-conspirators to impersonate other individuals to communicate with the victims about the delivery of a 2015 Range Rover.”
Officials say Royal also directed several individuals to open bank accounts in the name of shell entities to receive the victims’ funds.
In total, his scheme caused more than 575,000 in losses to the victims.
Court documents reveal that Royal’s scheme was detected after he and an associate falsely reported a vehicle stolen to the Leesburg Police Department. After fraudulently reporting the vehicle stolen, Royal and his associates immediately moved from Leesburg and moved to Atlanta.