A small army of accused fraudsters have been indicted in Queens for running a scam involving a boatload of stolen credit card numbers, illegally manufactured cards, and a team of hired shoppers. Queens District Attorney Robert Brown’s office says at least seventeen people, most in their early twenties, were involved in the well-organized ring.
According to the Brown, the defendants allegedly began by buying stolen card numbers online, encoding them onto blank credit cards, and then hiring shoppers to go and purchase big-ticket items at high-end retail stores like Saks Fifth Avenue. The (needlessly?) complex scheme was busted after a year-long investigation that conjures up memories of The Wire, with video and physical surveillance, seven months of wiretaps, and thousands of intercepted calls.
If the accusations are true, you have to give the kids some credit — they had moxie. One defendant, Isijola Olesegun, 24, is accused of giving a stolen Bloomingdale’s credit card to a buyer who used it to buy a pair of Gucci shoes. Gutsy enough. But a few days later, Olesegun allegedly had the gall to call Bloomingdale’s and, using a stolen Social Security number, have the credit limit on the stolen card raised. Another of the accused, Alexis Arrellano, 23, was an employee at Saks, and allegedly helped her friends and conspirators make purchases at the store, as any true friend would.
According to a press release from the D.A.’s office, the crew had a taste for the finer things in life, targeting Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, and allegedly picking up three nice steaks at a Waldbaums supermarket in College Point, Queens. Other listed purchases include more than $1,000 worth of jeans, an iPad Air 2, and a bunch of liquor, natch. They also bought flatware — maybe for the steaks?
“Their alleged crimes victimized not just the businesses, costing them thousands of dollars in losses, but the consumers whose personal identification information was used to carry out the scheme,” Brown said in a statement.
The defendants were charged with a variety of crimes including possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny, petit larceny — which is like regular stealing but smaller and more French — and unlawful possession of personal identification information. Each faces up to seven years in prison.