A former Eastern Jackson County car dealer will spend 15 years in prison for an identity theft case that Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster once said was the largest of its kind ever prosecuted in the state.
Terry Lee Morrow Jr. – after Circuit Court Judge Charles H. McKenzie heard testimony from several of the victims in Jackson County court in Independence – was sentenced to 15 years Thursday for using his customers’ identities to obtain more than $1.1 million in fraudulent car loans, of which he garnered more than $478,000. He used that money to run up large hotel and nightclub bills.
Morrow pleaded guilty in April to 20 charges that included identity theft, forgery and unlawful business practices, all felonies. He was sentenced to 15 years on two counts, seven years on nine other counts and four years on the other nine. All sentences will run concurrently, which means he will spend 15 years in prison.
“We believe that this is the largest identity theft case ever prosecuted in Missouri,” Koster said when Morrow was first charged last year.
Morrow owned and operated Edge Auto Sales, which for about the first half of 2011 was at 3550 Southwest U.S. 40 in Blue Springs and then was moved to 211 East U.S. 24 in Independence.
From October 2011 through April 2012, Morrow took personal information – driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth – from previous Edge Auto customers – which numbered in the dozens – and fabricated contracts for auto sales that never happened. He then sold those contracts to four auto-finance companies and pocketed the $478,000.
By inventing false addresses for the victims, Morrow made it harder for the auto-finance companies to track them down and collect on the loans. Eventually, one victim in Illinois noticed something questionable on her credit report and stepped forward.
Officials suggested Morrow knew his scheme couldn’t last for long. He stopped operating Edge Auto Sales in April 2012 and had moved to Illinois, where he started another auto dealership and where he was later arrested.
At one point, Morrow also had created a fictitious auto dealership in Kansas City, and the address he gave was actually located in the Missouri River.
Illinois law enforcement interviewed him in late January 2013 and he admitted fraudulently using at least 18 Missouri residents’ personal information, prosecutors said in court documents. They also said they took from him a suitcase with more forged auto-sale contracts.
The Missouri attorney general’s office said the auto-finance companies were cooperative in clearing up the issues for the victims and removing the loans from their credit reports.