Working for an automaker can have its perks. For example, those who work or have retired from Stellantis N.V. are eligible for the Stellantis Affiliate Rewards Program. The program allows employees of the company and their direct family members to qualify for special pricing, equal to 5% below the quoted dealer invoice on a new Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, FIAT, or Ram qualifying vehicles. Employees and the former are also allotted a certain number of “friends and family” discounts which are equal to a discount of 1% below the quoted dealer invoice.
According to a report from The Detroit News, Apollon “Apollo” Nimo, 34, a salesman at Parkway Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram in Clinton Twp, Michigan, and one of the nation’s top Stellantis salespeople has been charged by federal prosecutors with helping to put together a wire fraud conspiracy surrounding the Stellantis Affiliate Rewards Program ultimately costing the automaker around $8.7 million.
The report indicates that Nimo was arrest and charged on Friday, with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for illegally selling employee discounts to non-qualified buyers. If guilty, Nimo could face up to 20 years behind bars.
In unsealed criminal complaints observed by The Detroit News, say that federal investigators discovered a massive black market with the buying and selling of Stellantis Employee Pricing (EP) discount numbers through private groups on Facebook.
The investigation started after employees filed complaints with Stellantis, after finding out their EP numbers were being used without their consent. Local law enforcement soon conducted interviews with those who filed complaints and found that a majority of them were used by the Clinton Twp. dealer with as many as 268 EP numbers being illegally used between the period of 2016 to 2018. All of which were used by Nimo.
From 2010 to 2019, former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) award Nimo with about $700,000 in bonuses for his sales success. Nimo who sold around 250 cars in the month of January in 2020, sold more vehicles by himself than most Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, FIAT, Ram dealers would sell total for a month.
The report indicated that Nimo was the rewards program’s top salesman in 2018 and 2019.
The investigation also brought forth that Nimo leased his own father three vehicles in 2014, using EP numbers. On those transactions, Nimo stated his father was the brother/sister-in-law of three different Stellantis employees, when in fact they were not.
The complaint also stated that “Apollon Nimo is aware of his relatives and his father’s relatives, yet, he applied the [Stellantis] employees’ (numbers) to his father’s leases.”
The Big-3 automakers routinely conduct audits to expose fraud with their discount programs. Investigators from the automaker discovered that EP numbers were being purchased and sold on Facebook through private groups. These groups mostly featured members who lived in the state of Michigan.
The complaint also acknowledged that one customer had told investigators that Nimo was selling EP numbers for $600. The person stated that he bought three vehicles from Nimo in December of 2018 and during pricing negotiations, Nimo had offered to sell him the discounted EP number.
Nimo, who is free on bond, is barred from using employee discounts to sell or lease vehicles and prohibited from leaving the state or country. Friday afternoon, Nimo’s information had been taken off of the Parkway Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram website. His personal LinkedIn page was deleted on Monday morning after the news spread on social media.
A preliminary hearing is set for May 21st.