NYC authorities charge 55 in cyber fraud, ID theft ring

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The Manhattan district attorney's office on Friday announced the indictments of 55 individuals charged with  stealing millions of dollars from multiple financial institutions as part of a massive cyber fraud scheme.

The defendants, many of whom reside in Brooklyn, N.Y, are accused of stealing more than $2 million from Chase, TD Bank, Citibank, Discover and American Express, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced Friday. As part of their scheme, the crime ring also stole the identities of at least 200 individuals and organizations. The charges include conspiracy to commit grand larceny, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, identity theft and criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Between May 2010 and September 2011, the perpetrators allegedly relied on rogue insiders at banks and other businesses to steal the personal information, including Social Security numbers and financial account information, belonging to unsuspecting customers, prosecutors said.

Members of the conspiracy recruited employees from the nonprofit United Jewish Appeal-Federation, car dealership Open Road Audi of Brooklyn, residential property management company AKAM Associates and Chase Bank. In particular, the hired hands at Chase accessed banking customers' accounts and helped conduct fraudulent transactions by ensuring they were not immediately detected by the bank's anti-fraud and anti-money laundering systems.

“Today's indictment reveals another tool of organized identity thieves – insiders who betray their employers and prey on clients,” Vance said. “These insiders used their positions to gain access to client data, and then sold that data to make money for themselves and their accomplices.”

Those in the fraud ring had numerous jobs, including buyers who purchased the stolen information from rogue insiders and resold some of it to other criminals. Others ordered credit reports of victims to learn more about them so they could answer security questions to open additional credit card accounts in their names.

Still others used the stolen data to create counterfeit checks, while some were tasked with depositing the checks into their bank accounts.

The indictments and arrests were the result of an 18-month investigation that included court-ordered eavesdropping, physical surveillance, computer forensics and analysis of credit card, banking and phone records.

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