TWIN CITIES - A man was arrested and charged with theft by swindling of over $43,500 in vehicles from seven victims between September 3, 2022, and February 9, 2023, across parts of the Twin Cities and Rochester, Minnesota.
On February 9, 2023, at around 7:35 PM, Eagan Police Officers responded to a call about a stolen vehicle being sold. According to the probable cause, Victim 1 reported to police that they purchased a vehicle from Facebook from a person named "Kaleb Venberg" and met up at a parking lot in the City of Eagan. When they met up, Victim 1 paid $2,500 for a red Ford F150, the title, and a key to the vehicle. Victim 1 stated that they noticed the key looked freshly cut and that while driving, they got an alert on their phone to pair to a nearby Apple Airtag and a set of AirPods. Victim 1 searched the vehicle and found an AirTag hidden in the passenger door handle. Once home, Victim 1 realized the VIN on the title paperwork from "Venberg" did not match the VIN on the vehicle.
Police Officers were able to find out that the truck was previously sold to Josiah Tzolov, back on January 28, 2023. Police also found that Tzolov had never transferred the title to himself. After further investigation into the Apple products that Victim 1 had found, police discovered that the Facebook account for "Kaleb Venberg" was Josiah Tzolov after obtaining location data from Tzolov's phone.
Following their investigation into Victim 1's case, police learned of several other incidents across the state and obtained Tzolov's phone. The following cases began in September 2022 and spanned through February 2023, and were all a result of their investigation into the above case.
On September 3, 2022, Victim 2 purchased a maroon Honda Civic in Bloomington, Minnesota, from a person named "Jay Kalebson" on Facebook for $7,500. It was later determined that "Kalebson," or Tzolov, provided Victim 2 with one key and the title to the vehicle. Two after Victim 2 arrived at home, Victim 2 reported that the car was missing. From text messages on Tzolov's phone, officers found that Tzolov texted a friend, "Repo back in business," right after the car went missing. When Officers inspected the title provided by Victim 2, the name on the title was "Jared Kaleb Susterian."
On September 16, 2022, Victim 3 purchased a maroon Honda Civic in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from a person named "Jo PT" on Facebook for $8,500. Victim 3 told police they met "Jo PT" at Victim 3's residence, where Victim 3 was given the key and title for the car. According to Victim 3, they left their residence later that day, and when they came home, the vehicle was gone. Victim 3 provided the title to the Police, and it was noted that the title was for a "Jared Kaleb Susterian" with the VIN registered to a stolen vehicle in Texas.
On October 2, 2022, Victim 4 purchased a black BMW 328i in Bloomington, Minnesota, from a person named "Jay Kellskep" on Facebook for $4,000. The next day, October 3, 2022, Victim 4 reportedly left their residence, and when they returned, the vehicle was missing. During their investigation, Police used surveillance video from the sale location that showed Tzolov at the scene hiding an unknown item under the driver's seat and in the trunk. He was also seen testing several keys in the vehicle before Victim 4 arrived for the sale.
On October 11, 2022, Victim 5 purchased a black BMW 328i in Burnsville, Minnesota, from a person named "Jared Susterian" on Facebook for $1,500. Victim 5 was provided a key and title for the vehicle but no plates. When Victim 5 was driving home, the vehicle broke down, with the Victim also receiving an alert on their phone about an Apple Airtag following them. Officers were called to the scene of this incident, and once on scene, they noticed the VIN for the vehicle was scratched off, and the name provided on the title to Victim 5 was "Jared Kaleb Susterian." Police were able to get a VIN for the vehicle, and upon further investigation, Police were able to connect that this vehicle was the same vehicle that was sold to and later stolen from Victim 4.
On October 27, 2022, Victim 6 purchased a red Honda Civic in Rochester, Minnesota from Tzolov for $7,500. Victim 6 met Tzolov at their residence to complete the sale, providing $5,500 in cash and sending the remaining $2,000 through Zelle. Tzolov then provided Victim 6 with three keys and the title, which had the name "Jared Kaleb Susterian." A short time later, Victim 6 reported the car missing from their residence. Victim 6 found Tzolov's real Facebook account and showed it to the Officers. Officers also determined that the Zelle account Victim 6 sent the money to was registered to Tzolov.
Case #3 - 2.0
On November 2, 2022, Victim 3 saw the maroon Honda Civic stolen from their residence for sale on Facebook through a profile named "Sia JN." Victim 3 and the "Sia JN" agreed to meet in Bloomington, Minnesota, to sell the vehicle to Victim 3 for $9,000. Victim 3 went to the decided meeting location, and once "Sia JN" arrived, they called 911. Officers arrived at the scene and determined the vehicle that Tzolov was trying to sell belonged to his roommate. The VIN on the vehicle had been scratched off, and the plates did not match the vehicle.
On February 4, 2023, Victim 7 purchased a maroon Ford F150 in Richfield, Minnesota, from a person named "Kaleb Vanberg" for $3,000. Tzolov provided Victim with two keys and the title to the vehicle. Following the sale, Vicitm 7 took a picture of the vehicle around 1:02 PM. A few minutes later, Victim 7 realized the vehicle was gone.
According to the criminal complaint, on September 1, 2023, Officers located Josiah Tzolov in the Dakota County Jail. Tzolov waived his Miranda rights and admitted to officers that he committed all of the thefts, and detailed in his Complaint two other similar thefts he committed in Illinois. According to Tzolov, he used his laptop with Photoshop to create the fake titles that he sold to the Victims. He also admitted he would recruit help from others to steal the cars back from the Victims. With this information, Officers were able to get a search warrant on his vehicle that he was currently using and located the laptop.
Across all the incidents, Tzolov attempted to swindle a total of $43,500 from the various victims.
Josiah Tzolov was charged with Attempted Theft by swindling (Aggregating) (Over $35,000), which comes with a maximum sentence of 0 to 10 years and/or a fine of $15,000 to $50,000.