Former south Modesto car dealers face fraud charges

Two former south Modesto car dealers face multiple theft and fraud charges for swindling $1 million from investors and running crooked car schemes, authorities say.

Brothers Amel and Haythem “Mike” Attalla were arrested Friday in Arizona where they may have been selling used cars under an assumed name, an arrest warrant suggests. They are held in Maricopa County on $1 million bonds and await extradition to Modesto, where four alleged accomplices also were arrested, according to a state Department of Motor Vehicles press release.

Mike Attalla faces 65 felony counts, including grand theft, securities fraud and passing bad checks, while Amel Attalla faces several grand theft charges, the release says. Amel Attalla also uses the name Ataalaha, according to court documents and the DMV.

Also arrested on at least one grand theft charge were Amel Attalla’s mother-in-law, Nahrain Youhana, Carlos Ramon Villano, Jaime Toscano Pulido and Liduvina Villano Gonzalez, of Modesto.

Alleged victims listed in arrest warrants told The Bee for a report published in February 2009 that they had invested $3.2 million in the brothers’ Crows Landing Road car lots, as well as another owned by a third brother who was not arrested.

The lenders were promised exorbitant returns, but the brothers instead closed shop and left town, the investors said.

Those arrested engaged in loan fraud before the brothers’ dealer licenses were yanked, arrest warrants say.

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