New York police uncovered a large credit card fraud and identity theft ring in Queens that is thought to have affected hundreds of thousands of victims. They arrested 30 people in connection with the scheme and named them in two indictments comprising 662 criminal counts.
According to prosecutors, the ring stole personal information amounting to over $3.5 million in losses to individuals, businesses and financial institutions. It operated from April 2015 to January this year. Authorities also closed four mills in Queens that were used to manufacture fake credit cards and other forged documents.
Investigators said that Muhammad Rana, 40, was the leader of the identity theft ring. Rana and his assistant Inderjeet Singh, 24, allegedly employed Ranvie Seepersad, 25. Seepersad worked at a car dealership where he stole personal data from his own clients along with other victims. He obtained names, birthdates, addresses, social security numbers and financial records.
Other members of the ring used the stolen information to produce fake debit or credit cards. They also posed as the victims to make high-end purchases or request lines of credit from banks. In addition, the group employed shoppers to purchase expensive items from various retailers, which would later be resold by Rana himself or other middlemen.
In one week alone, law enforcement agents executed 24 search warrants at the suspects’ homes. They seized over $400,000 in cash, five vehicles, gold coins and bars, blank credit cards, card readers and skimmers, fake IDs and files with victims’ personal information.
The defendants face multiple charges including criminal possession of a forged instrument, criminal possession of stolen property, falsifying business records, identity theft, forgery, conspiracy, petit larceny and grand larceny, among others. Convictions are likely to result in lengthy prison sentences.