Eighteen men were busted for running a sweeping identity theft ring out of a Bronx apartment, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced yesterday. Over the course of two years, the men stole millions of dollars from just about every bank in the city, but focused most of their efforts on JP Morgan Chase, Wachovia, and HSBC. They forged counterfeit checks in the names of hundreds of people, hired “soldiers” to enter the banks to deposit the checks, and recruited bank tellers to process them
When the cops arrested one of the ringleaders back in February, they found him in his car with a laptop, which was plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter and also connected to a printer. It contained check-making software, information on over 286 bank accounts, templates of counterfeit checks which had been cashed at various banks, and the names and addresses of over 950 check cashing soldiers.
Prosectutors say they still don’t know how much the men stole from the thirteen other banks targeted by the scheme. These banks want to keep a low profile, we’re told, since in this economy, they are afraid to freak out their customers. Probably too late.