Fake Texas Car Tags Showing Up in Crime Scenes in Other States
Lisa Steuer McArdle
Oct 14, 2021 · 3 min read
Fake Texas temporary car tags are showing up in crime scenes in other states.
States as far away from Texas as New York are seeing the tags show up in crime scenes, according to NBC DFW. A recent FBI investigation has found more than 500,000 fake tags sold by three buyers across the U.S.
The tags are meant to be used after a person buys a car before the permanent license plates are issued. Unfortunately, they’re being made and used fraudulently.
Texas and the fake tag problem
The fake tags are sold to people who for whatever reason can’t get registration or people who don’t want to pay taxes, insurance, or tolls.
Police in New York said that part of the problem is that Texas has made it a little too easy to obtain the temporary tags online. With just a few questions and a little verification, someone in Texas can easily get a tag on the Internet, as reported by NBC DFW.
A few people in Houston have also been reportedly getting the fraudulent tags by setting up fake car dealerships. In this case, they were able to get more than 500,000 tags from the DMV that appeared legitimate.
Man busted in New York for fake Texas tags
Recently, police busted the self-proclaimed "Used Car King of New York." Police believe that he’s responsible for as many as 3,000 fake tags in the past year alone, pocketing more than $250,000, according to the New York Post.
Octavian Ocasio was indicted in late May along with two others by federal prosecutors in Texas for the two-state operation which involved selling over 600,000 fake tags.
According to the New York Post, the illegal tags essentially turn the vehicles into "ghost cars" and make them untraceable. The vehicles are often used by gang members in shootings and robberies, according to the report.
Ocasio allegedly created the fake tags in Texas with the co-conspirators and then shipped them online to New York. The plates are technically legal in Texas and have to go through a licensed dealer, but they’re illegal in New York.
According to the New York Post, Ocasio would give his partners fake registration information and then receive the plates in a PDF, which would be printed and sold.
An undercover report in Texas
It’s not a new problem for Texas.
KPRC-TV, an NBC station in Houston, went undercover in 2017 to show just how easy it is to buy fake vehicle tags in the state. The station received a tag that was issued by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles but was registered to a car dealer that wasn’t even in business.
With the tags selling for around $200 or $300, there’s a high profit margin and incentive for criminals to keep making fake tags.
How is Texas combating the problem?
Texas has made an effort to fix the problem by adding barcodes to the tags.
This year, Texas lawmakers tightened the process by putting more limits on how many paper tags used car dealers can get. The DMV is still reportedly working to implement those changes.
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