Small car dealerships across the state have been raking in millions, by illegally selling paper license plates, which helps criminals hide in plain sight. Texas law enforcement has said it’s a level of fraud that is beyond comprehension. In 2021, the largest dealership in North Texas should be Wale Automotive.
DMV records according to 12 News Now reveal that the dealer issued 17,000 paper tags in only eight months in 2021. That would mean they should have sold 17,000 cars in those eight months. Most of the larger brand dealerships have issued less than 10,000 paper tags this year.
Travis County Constable Sgt. Jose Escribano heads a paper tag fraud unit in the state. When he finds small car dealerships printing thousands upon thousands of tags, he knows they aren’t selling thousands of cars and instead they’re selling paper tags for a massive profit.
This criminal activity has grown into $200 million market
Escribano believes the illegal sale of tags has grown into a $200 million black market business in the state. Escribano investigated Freeman Auto Sales, who provided the state with photos of their business when applying for a Texas dealer’s license. Sgt. Escribano said that Freeman Auto Sales is a shell company and they just produce tags.
Those who use fake tags can have a variety of motives for doing so and they include:
- Someone who can’t get a car inspected
- Someone driving uninsured
- Driver who has stolen the car
- Drivers committing other crimes
Most of these tags are being sold online through Facebook. Fake tags have created millions in revenue. This is a major issue that is plaguing not just the state but the entire country.