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DA: South Shore car salesman scammed would-be buyers, sellers

A car salesman used "reputable" dealerships where he worked to scam would-be buyers and sellers, many of them members of the Hispanic community, gaining their trust and then stealing their money, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini said Thursday -- announcing the arrest of a Bay Shore man and urging any "additional victims" to contact authorities as soon as possible.

Sini said the salesman, identified as Jose Amezquita, 37, was charged with two counts of third-degree grand larceny and one count of fourth-degree grand larceny, as the results of "several schemes" involving deals he made at at least two South Shore car dealerships, making false promises as he allegedly scammed customers out of thousands of dollars. Sini said Amezquita was previously arrested Jan. 13, charged with third-degree grand larceny for "allegedly stealing $3,175 from a victim" -- money he claimed was for a down-payment and insurance on a vehicle that was never purchased.

In that case, Sini said, Amezquita allegedly stole $2,800 from the victim on Jan. 17, 2019, and then took an additional $375 from the victim on July 15, 2019 -- all while working at South Shore Nissan in Amityville. That charge is pending.

Sini said the other scams took place between June 17, 2019, and Sept. 20, 2019, while Amezquita worked as a salesman at South Shore Nissan and also involved a deal at Levitico Car Care in Copiague.

According to authorities, between June 17, 2019, and July 2, 2019, Amezquita told a female victim that she could surrender his 2019 Nissan Pathfinder to the dealership and it would be sold on her behalf. Authorities said Amezquita then told the woman she "would only be liable for the amount owed" on her loan after the sale was complete. Amezquita then sold the Pathfinder to a second victim at Levitico Car Care for $15,000, authorities said. But, Sini said, Amezquita stole the money instead of using the funds to pay the car loan, causing the SUV to be repossessed.

On Sept. 20, 2019, Sini said Amezquita "allegedly stole $2,000 from a male victim" after promising the funds would be used to purchase a driver's license and pay off the outstanding balance on the victim's auto insurance.

Sini said the victims "were primarily of Hispanic descent."

Authorities believe there may be additional victims and Sini is urging anyone who believes they may have been scammed by Amezquita to call the Suffolk District Attorney's Office's Financial Investigations and Money Laundering Bureau at 631-853-4232. You can also contact authorities by emailing InfoDA@suffolkcountyny.gov.

Amezquita was arraigned in First District Court in Central Islip and released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court on Dec. 15.

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