Remember the suggestion of Sheriff Buford T. Justice to a trio of juveniles about to steal a car in the 1970s comedy “Smokey and the Bandit”?
“Oh, you can think about it,” the sheriff (played by Jackie Gleason) said, “but dooooon’t do it.”
That’s the same message being put out by the Arlington office of Commissioner of Revenue, to those who try to pass off phony out-of-state vehicle titles for nefarious purposes.
“Don’t bring us fraudulent titles,” Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy said. “We’re going to catch you. My staff knows what to look for – the whole team is extremely sharp.”
Three members of that staff (Isaac Kateregga, Ahmad Abdalla and supervisor Michelle Neves) recently were honored by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles in Richmond. They were presented with “Fraud Busters” awards for their work in disrupting efforts to commit misdeeds.
Officials with Morroy’s office opted not to provide specifics, as at least one case is still working its way through the court system, but did say it involved title fraud.
Morroy said her office deals, on average, with about one such case per month, although the number varies (there have been three detected in the past month). She suspects that those wishing to commit fraud – in some cases because the vehicle is stolen – come to the DMV Select operated by the commissioner of revenue at the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center in hopes that the staff there will be less vigilant than at a traditional DMV service center.
That’s not the case, Morroy said, noting that a number of staffers actually first worked for the DMV before moving to the commissioner’s office.
The employees can refer to materials from NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) that show what titles from all 50 states look like. In case there are further questions, staff will call up the DMV in a specific state to ensure a title is legitimate.
DMV Select offices, like the one in Arlington, are set up by local governments and private entities under contract with the state government to provide many services offered at traditional DMV offices, including titling vehicles. Each year, the DMV Select offices across the commonwealth process more than a half-million transactions.
Morroy’s office will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the DMV Select office in Arlington with a ceremony the morning of Oct. 22.