ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis man admitted to selling hundreds of fake temp tags and other counterfeit items Thursday during a federal court hearing.
Mario Cooks, 35, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of fraudulent transfer of an authentication feature. He also admitted to producing 27 fake insurance ID cards and an undisclosed number of fake dealer license plates.
According to his indictment, Cooks sold fake temporary tags for $60 each and the fake dealer plates for $650 each. Investigators say he regularly manufactured these items until an undercover bust.
In June 2022, the St. Charles Police Department received a tip that Cooks was selling fake temporary tags and dealer license plates. Around that time, an undercover officer arranged to buy a counterfeit temp tag for $60. More transactions followed, and Cooks sold the officer two more counterfeit temp tags and two counterfeit motor vehicle insurance ID cards.
Authorities began a court-approved search of Cooks’ home in Dec. 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, and more.
A forensic analysis of the computer equipment revealed Cooks had produced hundreds of fake tags.
According to the indictment, people who are trying to hide their possession of a stolen vehicle or dodge their financial obligations were most likely to purchase fake temporary tags and other documentation.
After pleading guilty, Cooks could face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.