St. Louis man pleads guilty to making, selling, fake temporary vehicle license tags, dealer plates and bogus insurance cards

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A man from St. Louis, Missouri on Thursday admitted manufacturing and selling fake temporary vehicle license tags, fake dealer plates, and bogus insurance identification cards.

Mario C. Cooks, 35, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to three felony counts of fraudulent transfer of an authentication feature. He admitted producing and selling 329 fake temporary tags and 27 fake insurance cards as well as dealer license plates. According to Cooks, he sold the fake temporary tags for $60 each and the fake dealer plates for $650 each.

The investigation began when the St. Charles Police Department learned that Cooks was selling fake temporary tags and dealer license plates. In June of 2022, an undercover officer arranged to buy a counterfeit temporary tag from Cooks for $60, Cooks’ plea says. In subsequent transactions, Cooks sold the officer two counterfeit motor vehicle insurance identification cards and two more counterfeit temporary tags. 

In a court-approved search of Cooks’ home on Dec. 15, 2022, investigators found computer equipment, a printer, two counterfeit motor vehicle insurance identification cards, blank sheets of temporary Missouri Department of Revenue paper with authentication features, counterfeit temporary tags, fraudulent Missouri dealer license plates, and blank stock check paper, Cooks’ plea agreement says. A forensic analysis of the computer equipment revealed Cooks’ history of producing hundreds of fake tags. 

The plea says that those who are trying to hide their possession of a stolen vehicle or dodge their financial obligations as vehicle owners often purchase fake temporary tags and other documents.

Cooks is scheduled to be sentenced on January 25. He could face up to ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both prison and a fine.

The case was investigated by the St. Charles Police Department, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Missouri Department of Revenue.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Berry is prosecuting the case.

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