“Among the many jobs that California DMV investigators perform, they work to protect consumers from financial harm. Pairing their investigative expertise as it pertains to DMV with local law enforcement officers in the form of task forces, is a great way to combat vehicle related crimes.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
FRESNO – On March 30, 2023, detectives with the Fresno Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) task force arrested Christopher Michael Asher, 56, of Fresno on numerous charges related to auto theft and forgery. His bail was set at $117,000. He has since posted bond and been released from jail with a court hearing scheduled for May 19th.
Detectives began this investigation in August 2022 after learning a Huntington Beach car dealer was searching for one of its vehicles in the Fresno area that was listed as stolen. HEAT detectives determined the Huntington Beach dealer originally sold this vehicle to Christopher Asher for a $58,000. Asher presented himself as the general manager of Artanis Automotive, located at 5494 E. Lamona Ave. in Fresno. Since Artanis had a valid licensed dealer number, the Huntington Beach business finalized the transaction by sending the vehicle to Fresno. However, the check Asher sent to Huntington Beach bounced when the business tried cashing it.
Detectives found the vehicle in Fresno and contacted the man driving it. He explained he obtained the vehicle from Christopher Asher after giving him a down payment of $12,000. Asher helped him finance the remaining amount through a company called Anchored Finance. Detectives quickly discovered this man and the finance company were victims of a scam allegedly constructed by Christopher Asher.
Due to Asher being a previously convicted felon, he was not eligible to have a car dealer / broker license. However, he was able to obtain a license by allegedly forging documents, using the personal information of one of his acquaintances who had a clean record.
On March 30th, detectives served a search warrant at Asher’s home in Fresno. There they collected evidence and arrested Asher.
Detectives have located additional victims who were scammed and investigations into those cases are taking place.
The HEAT task force is comprised of members from the California Highway Patrol, Fresno County Sheriff's Office, the California Department of Motor Vehicles and Clovis Police Department.