Feds Bust Black Market Key Fob Operation

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Close to 2,000 keys for vehicles including the Challenger Hellcat and Ford F-150 Raptor were stolen.

Modern cars are getting more difficult to hack thanks to cutting edge firewalls and other safeguards, but once a crook has a set of keys, it becomes very difficult to stop nefarious characters from accessing vehicles. This is exactly what has happened in Dearborn Detroit, where a man was arrested for stealing almost 2,000 key fobs for cars such as the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, as well as the Ford F-150 Raptor. Jason Gibbs, 41, was charged by feds after a nearly two-year-long investigation into the grafting of key fobs destined for dealerships nationwide.

He stands accused of selling these key fobs on the black market, but unfortunately for him, his deeds were traced back through eBay, where he was providing keys for cars made by General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., and Fiat Chrysler.

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According to the Detroit News, an affidavit written by U.S. Postal Inspector Mykeita Brown revealed that Gibbs was charged with theft from an interstate freight shipment which is described as a high-dollar operation. The investigation has been focused on a CSX Transportation rail yard in New Boston close to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. This area houses GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler manufactured vehicles in Michigan. The protocol for new cars arriving works as follows: each vehicle comes with two key fobs, Porters use these fobs to transport cars off tractor-trailers and onto railroad freight cars. Key fobs are then left inside the unlocked car and transporters to New Boston. Detroit Automakers started complaining about missing keyfobs as early as 2018.

An employee of a CSX subsidiary did some research into the missing fobs and discovered a seller on eBay who was trading off similar fobs. The account name was "i_love_12volts." The account was traced back to the Detroit man who was under investigation by Ford security.

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Key fobs purchased from this man returned with an address of 7400 Mansfield in Detroit, which was listed as a vacant home, but Facebook records linked to the eBay account revealed Gibbs' name. After further investigation investigators raided Gibbs' home in Dearborn in May 2018. He was subsequently fired. eBay revealed that the PayPal account linked to Gibbs received $60,570 for selling 1,914 key fobs. The fobs were sold for between $69 and $160.

Postal investigator Brown commented "All 1,914 key fobs were associated with cars that were shipped through the New Boston facility and loaded onto autoracks, which became a part of CSX freight trains. The destinations of these CSX freight trains were all located outside of Michigan "It is believed that the end-users would use the key fobs (to) attempt to reprogram them so they could be used on other cars," she concluded.

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