Woman charged with forgery, grand theft

COSTA MESA — A Costa Mesa woman faces nearly 40 years in prison for her alleged role in an identity theft and bank fraud ring linked to an Orange car dealership, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Luz Belem Corral, 28, is charged with 77 felonies, including 43 counts of forgery and 31 counts of grand theft as a desk manager at Douglas Nissan.

She, along with three men, are accused of using their jobs at the used car dealership to target Latino customers who did not have proper identification or didn't understand the complexities of buying a car to get them inflated loans they couldn't afford to pay.

As desk managers from 2005-07, Corral and her accused accomplices had access to dealership customers' financial information.

They not only allegedly stole their customers' identities to secure car loans for other people by making them unwitting co-signers, but also to rip off the banks loaning the money for the purchases, authorities said.

Corral and the others would forge Kelley Blue Book prices on cars and submit them to the banks so they could get higher loans, or make fake pay stubs for potential buyers so it looked like they could afford higher payments, prosecutors said.

In some cases, authorities said, they urged car buyers to sign documents that were incomplete and then later went back and filled in information giving them higher payments. In June 2007, Bank of America stopped working with Douglas Nissan, allegedly because of the fraud, officials said.

In all, banks lost more than $900,000 in the transactions.

Prosecutors said there are countless more victims, but are prosecuting Corral and her accomplices on the 31 most egregious cases. She faces up to 39 years in prison, if convicted.

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