Two insiders at the Texas Department of Public Safety accepted money in exchange for assisting companies in conducting fictitious automobile emissions testing.
DPS officials say the two workers were detained on organized crime charges following an internal investigation into unlawful “clean scanning” in a statement.
LATEST NEWS: DPS Announces Arrests in Clean Scanning Operation
AUSTIN – DPS’ Regulatory Services Division continues to work to address illegal activity surrounding fraudulent vehicle inspections known as “clean scanning.”
— Texas DPS (@TxDPS) August 18, 2023
Clean scanning is a technique that produces a false “passing” score during a vehicle emissions test by entering the VIN of one car into computer records while the actual emissions test is conducted on another vehicle or utilizing a simulator.
On Friday afternoon, the DPS informed NBC 5 Investigates that the arrest of its own employees was the result of an ongoing investigation that started when the division’s Regulatory Services Division carried out several operations on vehicle inspection stations across Texas where it was thought that illegal activity was occurring.
The below tweet confirmed the news:
Texas DPS arrests two employees, arrests and detains nine others in fake inspection probe – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth https://t.co/pOVPhG12Q6
— Dallas (@Dallas24x7) August 18, 2023
Members of the RSD, the DPS’s Criminal Investigations Division, and the Texas Highway Patrol put those stations under observation, and multiple arrests were made as a result.
According to the DPS, five people were detained on April 26 at a Dallas inspection station, and investigators later discovered that two DPS workers had been bribed to assist the detainees in avoiding discovery.
These two DPS workers were detained by Texas Rangers on Friday and have both been accused of participating in organized crime. In the meantime, the investigations into both the criminal and administrative matters have resulted in the employees’ suspensions.
Four additional people who were not DPS workers were held on Friday and could possibly be charged, according to the DPS.
The DPS issued a statement on Friday stating that it “strives to maintain the highest level of integrity among its employees and will pursue prosecution for those engaging in any type of criminal activity.” To guarantee that all illegal conduct is discovered and prevented, “RSD continues to work closely with the Rangers.”
The DPS stated that additional arrests and charges are anticipated as part of ongoing investigations into “clean scanning.”
DPS Serves Warrant At A Shop NBC 5 Has Been Investigating For Weeks
The Texas DPS informed NBC 5 Investigates on Friday afternoon that the inquiry is related to South Side Inspections, an inspection firm we have been questioning recently since records show that shop produced a staggering amount of inspections.
The DPS claimed that the investigation got underway on April 26. On that day, NBC 5 Investigates accompanied DPS State Troopers as they carried out surveillance at several Dallas inspection stations.
According to DPS records, we could identify South Side Inspections in Dallas at 2719 Romine Avenue.
When we went back to look at a facility in the parking lot, we discovered a snow cone stand with staff who had no knowledge of state inspections, not an inspection shop.
We sat close by and observed that parking lot for an hour one day in June. Neither of us observed any inspections taking place. However, according to state data, South Side Inspections claimed to have inspected 33 automobiles during that hour, or nearly one every two minutes.
According to the documents, the company inspected more than 56,000 automobiles in less than five months. One day, on 55 occasions, South Side Inspections produced more than 500 inspections.
Numbers like these, according to law enforcement experts, are a warning sign because it is impossible for a tiny firm to provide credible inspections that quickly.
The DPS said on Friday that it had served a warrant at South Side Inspections, located at a different address on Romine Avenue. However, the agency chose not to reveal that address or the identities of the individuals it claimed are being held and could be charged.
NBC 5 Investigates has been attempting to contact the individual listed as the owner of South Side Inspections in state records for weeks, but the main phone number has been disconnected, and other messages have not been returned.
NBC 5 Begins ‘fake Inspections, Real Plates’ Investigation
The state’s computer system does nothing to flag the fraudulent inspections and stop those automobiles from receiving legitimate Texas license plates, as demonstrated in March by NBC 5’s Investigates, which exposed how some state-licensed vehicle inspection facilities are accepting money in exchange for falsely passing cars.
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Millions of cars on Texas roads, according to law enforcement fraud investigators from a Travis County team that looks into fraud, may not have passed safety or emissions tests as required by the state.
By paying an inspection station to falsely pass the car, those autos were able to obtain temporary paper license plates or even real metal license plates through “clean scans.”
State records and undercover videos captured by NBC 5 Investigates compound the issue by revealing that although the state’s inspection computer system collects information suggesting that the inspections may be fakes, the system is not configured to immediately flag stations performing fake inspections.
Additionally, fraudster inspectors may now insert a flash drive directly into the emissions analyzer and run software that mimics a car’s diagnostic system, according to investigators who spoke with NBC 5 Investigates earlier this year.
This has made it considerably simpler to fake an inspection. Without a car present, the program performs a passing emissions test; but, without a car present, the state’s mandated safety examination of the brakes, steering, tires, and signals is not performed.
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