Texas Woman Sentenced to 30 Months for Operating Fraudulent Temporary Car Tag Scheme

Texas Woman Sentenced to 30 Months for Operating Fraudulent Temporary Car Tag Scheme

A 43-year-old woman, Leidy Hernandez Lopez, has been sentenced for her involvement in a scheme to provide false information and access the state database to produce and sell illegal tags online. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Lopez pleaded guilty on May 10, 2023, for conspiring with others to buy and sell fraudulent Texas-issued temporary buyer tags for cars. The scheme involved thousands of tags being sold both in and outside of Texas without a legitimate vehicle purchase.

U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. ordered Lopez to serve 30 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Additionally, Lopez is required to pay restitution of $316,820 to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

During the hearing, it was revealed that Lopez and her co-conspirators engaged in widespread fraud, creating fictitious car dealerships to generate and sell fake Texas temporary buyer tags. The court emphasized the potential risks to public safety, as these fraudulent tags were used in crimes such as drive-by shootings.

Lopez and her associates utilized the internet to facilitate the illegal buying and selling of state-issued buyer tags. The fraudulent tags were exchanged for proceeds through electronic payment services like Cash App and Zelle.

At the time of her guilty plea, Lopez admitted to communicating with her co-conspirators via email, delivering fraudulent buyer tags to sellers across the United States, including New York, Florida, and Washington, D.C.

Although Lopez was permitted to remain on bond, she will voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility in the near future.

“The harm in this case was more than monetary,” said Hamdani. “In selling fake vehicle tags to other sellers, Lopez provided criminals with the means to create ghost cars that were invisible to law enforcement which were used to commit crimes that posed a hazard to the public ranging from driving without insurance to committing robberies and drive-by shootings.”

Emmanuel Padilla Reyes, also known as Christian Hernandez Bonilla or Noel Rivera, remains a fugitive in this case. The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Anyone with information is urged to contact 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit tips at www.TIPS.FBI.GOV.

The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of various law enforcement agencies, including the Travis County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office, Houston Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, and New York City Police Department.