California Authorities Sweep Smog Stations in Certificate Fraud Case
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ State investigators arrested 32 people at smog check stations, a taxi fleet and a used-car dealership for investigation of issuing fraudulent smog certificates.
The sweep Thursday was the largest crackdown since the state’s smog check program began in 1984. Investigators estimated that three percent of all certificates issued in Los Angeles County may be bogus.
″Los Angeles is known as the smog check fraud capital of California,″ said District Attorney Gil Garcetti.
″The price is cheap, $50 to $60. If you go to the Bay Area, a fraudulent certificate costs hundreds of dollars. People come here to buy them.″
State agents served search warrants, made arrests, seized equipment and closed down shops across the county. The taxi fleet and car dealership are suspected of the ″institutional purchase of fraudulent smog certificates,″ said Jim Schoning, chief of the state Bureau of Automotive Repair.
Los Angeles County has 2,500 smog check stations and 40 percent of the state’s vehicles.
The 32 people arrested face felony charges of computer fraud and perjury, investigators said.