BMV says faked auto titles were an inside job

Vehicle identification numbers were taken from junked cars and put into stolen vehicles.

Sandra Chapman/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - 13 Investigates has uncovered a new, disturbing link between an area auto theft ring and a top state agency.

The BMV commissioner confirms one of his own was doing double duty, processing illegal titles for stolen vehicles. It was an "inside job" taking criminal investigators and innocent victims for a ride.

Criminals, with a need for speed, whisked in and out of the Midtown License Branch in Indianapolis undetected, for possibly a year. Behind the counter one of their own, working at the BMV and overriding roadblocks set up to stop potential fraud.   
"We essentially had a criminal in our midst," said BMV Commissioner Andy Miller. He says the discovery happened in July 2008. "Our BMV investigators, along with IMPD, realized that this employee was processing fraudulent titles."

Here's how it worked:  Old vehicle identification numbers taken from junked cars were reattached to similar stolen vehicles. The thieves would then take the old titles to an employee identified as Robert "A.C." Hunter. That's when a new Indiana title was made.
Internal records show Hunter processed the title for a stolen truck at the center of a 13 Investigates probe, even though BMV policy prohibits someone to title a car in another person's name.  
Investigator Sandra Chapman asked, "How many of these illegal transactions took place?"

"We haven't, that's one of those things we've been working closely with IMPD. The ones that we know for sure are the ones that you have brought to our attention," the commissioner responded.

Eyewitness News began asking questions when a 25-year old man came to 13 Investigates looking for help. 
The man's name is being withheld, because IMPD confirms he is a victim of the auto theft ring under investigation. Undercover detectives say the man bought a Chevy Silverado from a purported independent dealer. 

The truck was seized three weeks after dealers handed over the bogus title. Unfortunately, the buyer had already gotten license plates and a $13,000 dollar loan he's still stuck paying.
"And now, they're just throwing it back on me saying, 'We're out of it, it's on you'," the frustrated buyer told 13 Investigates.

"We were all taken in this scheme," Commissioner Miller said. "We're not immune to folks who want to come in and break the law. We do extensive background checks. There's no reason to believe anyone else was involved."

The BMV now requires branch managers or assistant managers to check each title transaction that comes through the door.

"Our goal is to try to stay one step ahead of these folks," Miller reassured.

BMV records show Hunter was immediately suspended last July and then fired within three days upon discovery of the fraudulent titles. He has not been criminally charged.

So far, investigators have identified and recovered 30 cars from this auto theft ring and are still tracking more.