New York City officials break up international credit card and ID theft scam
NEW YORK New York City officials busted an international credit card and identity theft ring that ensnared more than 6,000 customers around the world and caused about $15 million in losses, police and prosecutors said Thursday.
The ring was based in New York with roots in Nigeria, and suspects were accused of shipping stolen or illegally obtained credit cards to buyers around the world.
More than 35 people have been indicted on enterprise corruption charges. So far, at least 22 suspects pleaded not guilty to enterprise corruption and other charges in state Supreme Court in Queens. Most of the suspects were Nigerian nationals living in New York.
Wole «Shola» Ogunewen lead the largest ring, and three others, Charles Femi Adoyele, Ayanwale Ganiyu and Abdul Razack Yusuf, operated smaller rings, prosecutors said. Some of the ringleaders, scannable ids including Ogunewen and Ganiyu, were still at large, prosecutors said. At least one was believed to be in Nigeria.
Adoyele’s lawyer, Marvyn Kornberg, said his client was among those who pleaded not guilty and would save any comments for the trial. A message left with Yusuf’s attorney was not immediately returned.
Investigators were tipped off in September 2007 after the owner of a Queens real estate office opened a package meant for an employee and discovered 60 valid credit cards in various names, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. The yearlong investigation used surveillance and wiretaps on 81 cell phones. Investigators translated thousands of calls into English, and executed search warrants that netted thousands of dollars in cash, machines used to make fake IDs and dozens of computers.
Kelly and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the ring was made up of three enterprises working together. Legitimate cards meant for Citibank, scannable ids Chase and Capital One customers were somehow diverted into the hands of thieves who used them to withdraw thousands in cash. They would also use personal identification information, including mother’s maiden name and Social Security numbers from real customers, to loot accounts. The groups operated in many locations including California, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Ireland, Japan, England and Egypt.
Officials said ID mills were also set up in Brooklyn where scam members would make fradulent licenses and credit cards to use as backup for the stolen cards.
«This is a constant race that law enforcement is in, to find out what technology is being used, and to assist in developing technology to protect against it,» Kelly said. Scannable Fake ID