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38 arrested in bogus cardsID theft ring
QUEENS, N.Y. (3/11/08)--Several credit unions were among the financial institutions affected by an identity theft ring that was broken up by New York police last week. The ring, dubbed “House of Cards,” created fraudulent credit cards with stolen personal account information that were used to purchase high-end merchandise. The merchandise was later re-sold. Thirty-eight individuals were arrested by the New York Police Department in connection with the ring, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A Brown. Of those 38, seven are currently at large, according to Brown’s press office. The ring resulted in more than $1 million in losses for the affected financial institutions. According to the indictment, affected credit unions include: Navy FCU, Vienna, Va.; American Airlines FCU, Dallas; U.S. Senate FCU, Alexandria, Va.; Pentagon FCU, Alexandria, Va.; and another credit union in Texas that asked not to be identified. “Our losses were modest,” said John Tippets, CEO of American Airlines FCU. There are multiple identity thieves out there and “we would like them in jail,” he said. The cases can be difficult to investigate, so Tippets said he applauds the police and investigators. Other affected institutions include: First National Bank, Capitol One, Independent Bankers Bank, Franklin Templeton Bank, Iowa State Bank, First Mariners Bank, First Data Bank, BB & T Bank, Suntrust Bank, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Banknorth, State Farm Insurance Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Chase, US Bank and National City Bank. Credit card companies, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, also were affected. The defendants obtained account holders’ checking and debit account numbers from a supplier in China. The numbers were used to make fraudulent credit and identification cards, which were then given to “shoppers” in New York, Texas, Arizona and other areas of the U.S. The shoppers purchased high-end electronics and merchandise, which were later were re-sold. Thirty-four defendants were charged in a second, 150-count identity theft indictment. A third, 13-count indictment charges five defendants with operating a separate and smaller identity theft and credit card operation. Kwok Chow has been listed as the “boss” of the ring. Chow allegedly obtained the account numbers and then distributed them to his Queens-based “production crew.” The “production crew” allegedly consisted of writers, embossers, and identification card makers. Once the cards were made, they were distributed to “shopping crews,” which consisted of a manager, leader and shoppers. Thirty-one of the indicted defendants were arraigned Wednesday in Queens Supreme Court. They face up to 25 years in prison ( SCMagazineUS.com March 7).
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