Dallas police said a convicted car thief who surfed the Web for victims was arrested in a raid Thursday morning in Fort Worth.
Police said an anonymous tip led officers to Fadel Assane, 24 as well as three stolen vehicles.
Assane is suspected in three auto theft cases since September.
Sgt. David Landry of the Dallas police said Assane made arrangements to purchase expensive cars that were posted for sale on popular Web sites. Assane would meet the seller at a bank where he convinced them the purchase money was wired into their accounts.
Landry said Assane then drove the seller home and left with the vehicle, car keys and the title.
The sellers later discover they did not receive a penny, police said.
"He continues to drive them, but we think he also sells them to other people who are just kind of thinking they're getting a good deal on a nice car," Landry said.
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Records show Assane used several false names in dealing with the victims and Landry said Assane even recently visited his probation officere in a stolen vehicle.
"He's very slick, yes, and you know, when we have dealt with him, he's been a very cool customer," Landry said.
Landry said Assane once told him he had stolen 30 cars with his method, although his conviction does not reflect that. For his conviction, he was sentenced to 10 years of probation.
Assane has past or pending cases in Dallas, Fort Worth, Richardson, Grand Prairie and Plano and is currently wanted in three counties.
Landry said people selling expensive cars online should make sure they have the money in hand before they turn over the vehicle.
The Web site Craigslist.com offers these safety tips:
- Deal locally with buyers and sellers you can meet in person.
- Avoid deals that involve wiring money.
- Be sure that checks are real before you turn over property you are selling.
- Never give out your personal financial information.