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Used car salesman cheated dealerships, customers, Nassau DA says

A used-car salesman from Freeport cheated three dealerships and several customers out of almost $400,000 in loans and set up other scams that resulted in car repossessions on some unsuspecting victims, the Nassau district attorney's office said Monday.

Michael McGriff, 41, was arraigned Monday on an indictment with 28 felony counts and three misdemeanors, charges that included grand larceny, identity theft and scheme to defraud.

He stole about $382,000 from at least 17 customers and three auto dealerships -- Lexus of Rockville Centre, Port Motors Lincoln Mercury in Roslyn and Auto Gallery Imports of Westbury -- where he worked between 2009 and 2013, prosecutors said.

McGriff collected and pocketed down payments for used cars from customers, authorities said. The customers were unaware of the scam and signed finance contracts that did not reflect the down payments, saddling them with higher monthly payments, prosecutors said.

In another scheme, he forged finance contracts without authorization on customers who had paid in full in cash, prosecutors said. Months later, at least three customers had their vehicles repossessed when they refused to pay the lenders for the fraudulently obtained loans, authorities said.

In the most recent case, a Valley Stream resident in August gave McGriff $12,900 cash to buy a car at auction, but he kept the money, authorities said. McGriff used the alias Michael Glenn and said he represented Titanium Auto Group in Uniondale, but no business by that name was found there, prosecutors said.

His attorney, Donald Rollock of Mineola, said the prosecutors' evidence does not add up against his client.

"They have major holes in their cases," he said. "Sometimes people are made to look like the fall guy."

McGriff faces a maximum of 5 to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top charge, second-degree grand larceny. He was held without bail after arraignment on that charge and seven counts of third-degree grand larceny; first-degree identity theft; four counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument; three counts of first-degree scheme to defraud; 12 counts of first-degree falsifying business records; and three misdemeanor counts of making a false statement of credit terms.

"People spending money in Nassau County should have the confidence that they won't get entangled in fraudulent schemes like these," acting District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a news release.

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