In an indictment unsealed Wednesday, the District Attorney's office charged 18 people, including alleged ringleaders Jasper Grayson, 25, and James Malloy, 26.
All were said to have been involved in operating an identity theft and bank fraud scheme that cashed more than a thousand counterfeit payroll checks, which were created to look exactly like those for the accounts of the victims, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.
The defendants, according to the indictment, used information obtained from bank employees, often tellers, who had access to bank computer systems and to checks processed during legitimate customer transactions. The purloined information included names, Social Security numbers, account numbers and account balances of nearly 500 identity theft victims.
The gang recruited “soldiers” who were named as payees on the counterfeit checks, which had been forged using specialized computer software, scanners, printers, check stock, magnetic ink and company logos found on the internet, authorities said. The soldiers would go to various bank branches to cash or deposit the checks – and funds from the deposits were quickly withdrawn.
The money was split among the participants, with ringleaders Grayson and Malloy getting the largest share, prosecutors said.
“The investigation continues into additional bank employees working at different banks in Manhattan who are known to have compromised customers' accounts and made unauthorized money transfers under the direction of members of this group of defendants,” Morgenthau said in a statement announcing the indictments.