New York identity theft ring broken up
New York police have cracked a huge international identity theft ring, involving five criminal organizations in the New York borough of Queens. The operation has links with Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
More than 111 people involved have been charged and 86 were detained, in a scheme that made fake credit cards using information from actual cards in banks, restaurants and retail stores.
The operation had employees, and sometimes business owners, using skimming devices to swipe customer credit card information. The information was then passed to the heads of five organisations operating from Queens, who passed the information to manufacturers. From there, the information was encoded onto fake cards using a reverse skimming device.
The organisations allegedly produced American Express, Mastercards, Visa and Discover Cards, all with forged security numbers and logos. The fake cards were then given to “shoppers,” who used them to buy electronics and other easily resalable items, according to prosecutors.
An investigation into the identity theft operation began in October 2009, and has linked an additional 12 people to crimes such as robbery and burglary in Queens.
The estimated loss over the 16-month period is around 13 million dollars.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said on Saturday, “These weren’t holdups at gunpoint, but the impact on victims was the same. They were robbed.”
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