ID Theft Ring Arrested
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office have arrested a dozen suspects in connection with an identity theft ring that claimed more than 70 victims and involved 30 police departments, including Midland Park.
According to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, throughout 2012 and 2013, numerous police departments received complaints from victims of identity theft who reported that unknown subjects used their name to apply for credit accounts in various department stores and chain retailers. The victims discovered the theft when they received correspondence in the mail congratulating them on the newly opened credit accounts that they had not opened themselves and received bills notifying them of various charges that had been made on the newly established credit accounts by “Authorized Buyers.”
During the course of the investigation, detectives discovered that most of the victims had recently refinanced or applied for mortgages through NJ Lenders Corporation, a mortgage brokerage company in Little Falls that fully cooperated with the investigation. With the company's assistance, detectives learned that they archived their customers’ files, which included all of their personal financial information, at a warehouse in Paterson and all of the victims' records were transported by the same person.
Detectives from the various police departments obtained numerous records from financial institutions and conducted numerous interviews of potential witnesses. In addition, the detectives obtained numerous store security videos which depicted the above subjects conducting the credit card transactions using the victims’ credit accounts.
During the investigation, detectives learned that one of the suspects bought victims’ profiles from the warehouse worker. She then used the victims’ profiles to apply for credit accounts with various financial institutions.
An extensive analysis was conducted into the credit applications and financial records. The analysis confirmed that a subject applied for the credit accounts in the victims’ names, and then added Authorized Buyers onto the accounts. These Authorized Buyers were subsequently identified as the subjects listed above. These Authorized Buyers then went to the corresponding retailers where the credit accounts were established and made purchases. The Authorized Buyers used the “Account Look-Up” method to access the victims’ credit accounts and then produced a photo identification card, in most cases their driver’s licenses, to prove that they were the Authorized Buyer listed on the credit account. The Account Look-up method was utilized by the subjects since they did not possess the physical credit cards. Either the credit cards had not been printed yet, or the credit cards were mailed to the victims’ addresses and not to the subjects’ addresses. Once the cashier established that the subject making the purchase was the listed Authorized Buyer, the transaction was completed.
As of this date, the total losses are greater than $150,000.00.
On May 1, 2013, the Honorable Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi P.J.S.C. authorized five search warrants and 11 arrest warrants for the above subjects. The subjects were charged with N.J.S. 2C:21-17.3B(2), Trafficking in Personal Identifying Information, a second degree crime; N.J.S. 2C:20-4, Theft By Deception, a second degree crime; and N.J.S. 2C:5-2A(1), Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception, also a second degree crime. Bail was set at $300,000.00 with no 10% option for each defendant.
On May 2, 2013, the above subjects were arrested at their residences in Paterson and vicinity and subsequently lodged in the Bergen County Jail in lieu of bail.
The full release, including names and photos of the suspects, is available at this link on bcpo.net.