Wire fraud conspiracy is a federal offense.
It's all crashing down for 34-year-old Apollon "Apollo" Nimo, 34, previously one of Fiat Chrysler Automobile's best salespeople in the country. Now he's being charged with wire fraud and conspiracy by federal prosecutors for involvement in an $8.7 million scam that targeted the automaker.
The Detroit News reports Nimo, a resident of Michigan and previously employed at Parkway Dodge Chrysler Jeep, was arrested last Friday and is now facing up to 20 years in federal prison. He's accused of orchestrating an extensive black market that included brokers who peddled FCA employee discount numbers to salespeople who then connected with potential buyers in private Facebook groups.
In short, Nimo is accused of stealing FCA, now part of Stellantis, employee numbers and then using their entitled discounts for selling and leasing vehicles to non-employees. Investigators uncovered 268 employee numbers that were illegally used between 2016 and 2018. All traced directly back to Nimo.
Each automaker employee is given a specific number of discounts per year which relatives can also use. Those relatives must be placed on a list filed with the automaker and dealerships then verify the information. It's also up to dealerships to safeguard that information, and that's where Nimo's scheme began. Suspicions began to arise when it was noticed he was selling an unusually large number of employee-discounted vehicles.
For example, investigators discovered Nimo's father leased at least three cars from him in 2014, and for each transaction, Nimo stated his father was a relative of three separate FCA employees. But Nimo didn't stop there. He began an online network using private Facebook groups to buy and sell FCA employee numbers. It was a massive success.
In January 2020, Nimo sold about 250 vehicles, a number more in line with what an entire sales department sells in one month. A manager at Nimo's dealership, while being questioned by investigators, revealed that Nimo was approached by a so-called employee number "broker" who admitted he does business with Nimo and other top-selling FCA salespeople. Investigators tracked down that broker and Nimo's involvement became clear. He was selling black-market employee numbers for $600.
One employee number was used to get a nearly $2,600 discount on a new Ram 1500. The retired employee did not buy the truck but was duped into giving his number in 2018 when he received a call from an unknown salesperson claiming one of his relatives was at the dealer and needed the number to buy a vehicle.