Prosecutors say they've nailed a band of identity thieves that ran a stunningly simple scheme to defraud businesses, banks and government agencies of more than a million dollars.
The check scam was effective and not very complex. The Manhattan District Attorney says The Bronx's Jasper Grayson had a fraud factory inside a Morrisania apartment building. He and co-defendant James Malloy are accused of cutting deals with tellers at JP Morgan Chase bank, TD Bank and HSBC. The tellers would allegedly steal customer information and photocopy legitimate checks. The fraud ring leaders would then use scanners, printers and check-making software to fabricate thousands of fake checks. Assistant District Attorney Antonia Merzon says the scam artists used methods routinely employed by small businesses to cut payroll checks.
"These checks were created with a legitimate form of software. They used stolen information, but someone figured that out and capitalized on it in a grand way," stated Merzon.
Investigators say the ring of identity thieves stole $1.4 million from one bank alone. Most of the fake checks posed as payroll checks from agencies including the New York City Transit Authority, Madison Square Garden, Various hospitals, and even the NYPD.
A total of 18 people have been arrested. Many of them appear to have made a criminal career switch away from drug trafficking.
Merzon said, "there is a general trend that individuals who'd been making a lot of money in the narcotics trade or in violent crimes have now diverted their energy toward identity theft, which is less physically risky of course."
Outgoing District Attorney Robert Morganthau said he hopes banks launch new measures to catch tellers who trade in personal information.
"Some banks are very tough on this kind of thing, like Chase," stated Morganthau, "They cooperated 100% with us. Other banks view themselves as self-insured, so if somebody steals a couple thousand dollars from them, they're not going to get excited about it."
DA: Bronx Bunch Churned Out Thousands Of Fake Checks
Investigators say the ring of identity thieves stole $1.4 million from one bank alone
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