FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – A second man was charged Thursday in an undercover investigation into a "title-washing" vehicle scheme in which the men would steal identities to purchase cars from dealerships and have them delivered to a vacant house in Farmington Hills, officials said.
Rondolph McDonald was arrested in Farmington Hills after undercover officials caught him using a stolen identity to purchase a Range Rover and have it delivered to the house, according to documents from the U.S. District Court.
Police believe McDonald has committed identity theft and mail fraud in a "title-washing" vehicle scheme involving dozens of vehicles.
Erroll Wofford was charged Thursday with being involving in the scheme after he tried to escape undercover officers following McDonald's arrest, officials said.
Dealership owner suspicious of fraud
The owner of a car dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina questioned an application submitted Sept. 27 to purchase a 2014 Range Rover from Formula One Imports.
Owner Jeff Tomascak said he has a "fraud checklist," and the application submitted by a man named "Hall A. Barricklow," from Florida, raised several red flags.
Tomascak said his checklist includes:
- Is the purchaser out of state?
- Is any down payment being made in the purchase?
- Is the vehicle considered a luxury car?
- Does the purchaser have inquiries with credit bureaus?
- Has the purchaser tried to negotiate the terms of the transaction?
The next day, Tomascak searched online for Hall A. Barricklow and came across a LinkedIn profile that showed Barricklow was a white man. The identification provided in the application showed a black man.
Tomascak called the phone number in the LinkedIn profile, and told Barricklow that someone was using his identity. Barricklow said he had also received a call from an online used car company advising him of the same thing.
Tomascak said the purchaser listed Farmington Hills as the city where the Range Rover should be delivered, so Barricklow called the Farmington Hills Police Department.
Farmington Hills police investigation
Tomascak provided officials with a phone number and email that had been used by the purchaser.
Law enforcement officers said the email account provided had been linked to the fraudulent purchase of a 2016 Chevy Express van in July 2016. The van was bought from a different North Carolina dealership for $79,000 using a stolen identity.
The van had been delivered to a house in Farmington Hills.
Tomascak told officers the finance documents for the Range Rover were sent to an address in the 34000 block of Quaker Valley in Farmington Hills.
USPIS undercover operation
On Oct. 2, the United States Postal Inspection Service used an undercover postal inspector dressed as a mail carrier to deliver the finance documents to the address. The house was vacant and there was no mail box.
The U.S. Postal Service said nobody had received mail at the address in years, until recently.
On Oct. 4, a black man wearing a hat and glasses picked up the documents at the post office in Farmington Hills. The window clerk said he used a Michigan ID with the name Hall Barricklow.
Formula One Imports received the documents the next day through a FedEx delivery.
Between Oct. 4 and Tuesday, the dealership received several calls from McDonald about the status of the delivery, police said. Tomascak said the man was getting impatient.
On Tuesday, an undercover postal inspector called the phone number and scheduled to deliver the Range Rover the following morning.
Rondolph McDonald arrested
Around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, law enforcement officers parked a flatbed truck with a used Range Rover covered by a tarp in front of the home.
A white Audi pulled into the driveway, and McDonald got out, police said.
Undercover officers dressed as truck drivers walked up to McDonald and asked him if he was Hall Barricklow. The man said yes and provided identification, police said.
He signed the delivery notice as Hall Barricklow, and the law enforcement officers arrested him.
Police said they found multiple pieces of evidence on his person that identified him as Rondolph McDonald. Arresting inspectors said McDonald eventually admitted his identity.
McDonald is accused of aggravated identity theft and mail fraud. Investigators said there are possible violations of wire fraud and possessing a stolen motor vehicle.
McDonald has not been formally arraigned.
Erroll Wofford arrested
After McDonald was taken into custody, police said the white Audi sped off at high speed. An officer positioned elsewhere in the subdivision turned on his patrol lights, but the driver sped up and drove around the officer, narrowly missing the patrol car, police said.
Multiple officers tried to stop the Audi, but the driver went through a red light and crashed into a tree, flipping upside-down in a ditch, police said.
Wofford, who was driving the Audi, got out of the car on his own, police said. He was taken into custody.
McDonald said he knew Wofford as "E," and that "E" had given him the ID card with his picture and the name Hall Barricklow.
McDonald said Wofford told him to pick up the mail using Barricklow's name, and asked him to sign documents for the Range Rover, police said.
According to McDonald, Wofford was going to pay him $150 to pick up the Range Rover at the Farmington Hills house.
Wofford was charged with aggravated identity theft and mail fraud, according to court documents.