Thursday, March 22, 2007

Oregon State AG settles motor coach fraud case

The Oregon Department of Justice recently culminated a complex, 18-month-long investigation of fraudulent registrations of out-of-state luxury motor coaches by charging Tualatin resident Denise Harden with 10 counts of Tampering with a Public Record (ORS 162.305) and civil violations of Oregon's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization law (ORICO), ORS 166.715 et seq.

In August 2005, DOJ began investigating Harden regarding her involvement in a scheme to assist out-of-state businesses and individuals in avoiding sales tax and registration fees in their home states by fraudulently registering their motor vehicles, primarily luxury motor coaches, in Oregon. Ms. Harden allowed her personal residential address to be used to establish what appeared to be a legitimate address in-state.

The out-of-state vehicle owners took advantage of Oregon's relatively low registration fees by fraudulently registering their vehicles in Oregon by falsely listing the address of a residence in Oregon as the person's address, commonly known as a "mail drop," on the application form. Also, because Oregon has no sales tax, if a person or business uses a "mail drop" address that is located in Oregon when purchasing a motor vehicle, then that person or business may, depending on a particular state's tax law, avoid paying any sales tax that the person or business would otherwise be required to pay in the state where the person or business is actually located.
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