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Posted on: September 11, 2020

Man Suspected of Identity Theft, Fraud in Vehicle Purchase

Mug shot Richard Padilla

Las Cruces police have arrested a man suspected of creating a fictitious identity and using it to fraudulently purchase a brand-new vehicle – and nearly a second one before his arrest.

Richard Padilla, 32, who claimed an address of 999 W. Amador Ave., is charged with one second-degree felony count of fraud more than $20,000, two third-degree felony counts of attempted fraud of more than $20,000, two fourth-degree felony counts of forgery, a fourth-degree felony count of identity theft and a fourth-degree felony count of possession of methamphetamine.

Investigators believe Padilla either stole or obtained stolen mail and used information in it – including a paper driver’s license and a social security number – to create a fictitious identification. Investigators learned he used the photo from his driver’s license and copied it to the paper driver’s license that was stolen, creating a realistic-looking paper, or temporary, driver’s license.

Investigators learned Padilla used the fictitious paperwork on Sept. 8 to purchase a 2020 Nissan Titan from a local dealership. Nissan was valued at approximately $60,000. Padilla was trying to purchase a 2020 Ford F-150, valued at approximately $40,000, from another local dealership when he was detained for questioning by Las Cruces police.

Investigators learned that Padilla also forged information to create a fake insurance document that was needed to complete the vehicle purchase. Padilla is also suspected of using a fake ID to cash checks.

Police encourage automobile dealerships – and other businesses that require identification cards to facilitate a transaction – to use caution when accepting a paper or temporary driver’s license. Police suggest taking all the necessary precautions in learning the true identity of the consumer before completing a transaction.

Similar cases of fraud and identity theft have been reported in Las Cruces within the last few months. Police are still investigating those cases.

Padilla was arrested Friday, Sept. 11, and booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center where he is initially being held without bond.

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