- beginning back in february 2018, ford, fca, and gm began to make claims to a rail vehicle transporter, csx, that vehicles were missing key fobs when they arrived at dealers.
- after a two-year investigation, a dearborn, michigan, man who worked at the rail yard was officially charged on july 6 with stealing and selling nearly 2000 key fobs from new vehicles.
- the man made more than $60,000 selling the key fobs on ebay, the feds accuse.
starting in december 2017, ford, fiat chrysler, and general motors vehicles distributed via train out of new boston, michigan, near detroit's metro airport, were frequently arriving at dealers with only one of their two key fobs. now, after two years of investigating and sifting through a web of ebay, instagram, paypal, and facebook accounts, investigators say that they have found the man who stole—and sold—nearly 2000 key fobs from vehicles transported out of that rail yard, according to an affidavit written by u.s. postal inspector mykeita brown.
the accused party, as reported by the detroit news, is jason gibbs, a 41-year-old dearborn resident. gibbs was charged in the u.s. district court for the eastern district of michigan on monday, july 6, with theft of goods from interstate freight shipments. gibbs worked for auto warehousing company, a contractor of csx transportation, the company that operates the rail yard in new boston. while in that job, it's alleged that gibbs stole key fobs from vehicles transported from new boston and sold them on ebay—making $60,570 in the process.
vehicles recently assembled in michigan or neighboring states arrived at the rail yard unlocked, typically with the two key fobs zip tied together, the affidavit explains. the key fobs are needed so that porters at the rail yard can drive the vehicles off the car carriers they arrive on and into the storage lots, then later onto specialized railroad freight cars known as autoracks. the vehicles remain unlocked during the whole process, and once they are loaded onto the autorack, the freight car is sealed. as described in the affidavit, parts of gibbs's job was to line up vehicles "by driving them into assigned parking rows to later be placed onto trains."
it was back in february 2018 that a pattern started of automakers complaining to csx transportation that vehicles were arriving at dealers with missing key fobs, sparking the beginning of the investigation. a csx manager found the first piece to the puzzle: an ebay account by the name of "i_love_12volts" that was selling a lot of fobs like the ones that were being stolen. the only issue was that the account was registered to a kerry reyna, someone who wasn’t employed at the rail yard.
f-150 pickup keys spotted on ebay
the investigators contacted ford's global brand production group, which had already bought three of the key fobs from this ebay account. the fobs were linked to f-150 pickups transported out of the new boston rail yard that had arrived at dealers with a missing key fob; they arrived with a return address of a vacant home that, it turned out, was last registered to gibbs, a rail yard employee who was facebook friends with reyna.
the paypal account that ford sent its payment to, @scarpone21, had the same username as gibbs's instagram page, the affidavit explains. on top of that, the postage for the package which contained the f-150 fobs was paid for with a debit card in gibbs's name. using this information, investigators searched gibbs's home on may 22, 2018, and interviewed him. he admitted to using his friend's i_love_12volts instagram account because his had been suspended . . . for selling fake headphones.
$60k in six months
in total, through ebay and paypal records, gibbs is alleged to have sold 1914 key fobs—all of which came from vehicles loaded onto csx trains in new boston—between december 15, 2017, and may 16, 2018. a vast majority of those fobs were bought by someone in california, who then also sold them on ebay for anywhere between $69 to $160. investigators presume that the final buyers would reprogram the fobs so they could be used on other vehicles.
gibbs was fired five days after he told investigators that he used the ebay account i_love_12volts to sell the fobs; following that date, the automakers didn’t make any more claims for missing key fobs.