Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and NYPD Comissioner Ray Kelly announced the largest identity-theft bust in U.S. history on Friday, nabbing more than 100 people from across the world operating in Queens.
In addition, several of those arrested were involved in attempted robberies and burglaries locally.
Four of the men arrested are charged with conspiring to rob the Flushing Savings Bank on Continental Avenue in Forest Hills.
Imran Khan, Travis Lootawan, Kendall McLean and an as-yet unapprehended associated were allegedly planning to knock over the bank in July. Police were monitoring their phone calls as part of the ongoing investigation into the identity theft ring, and were able to foil the plot by posting a police car on the scene at the time of the planned burglary.
Imran Khan is alleged to be the ring leader of the largest group of identity thieves.
Of the dozens of other perpetrators arrested, many are bank employees and retail and restaurant workers who worked to steal the indentities of customers who came into their stores.
“This is by far the largest – and certainly among the most sophisticated – identity theft/credit card fraud cases that law enforcement has come across,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “Many of the defendants charged today are accused of going on nationwide shopping sprees, staying at five-star hotels, renting luxury automobiles and private jets, and purchasing tens of thousands of dollars worth of high-end electronics and expensive handbags and jewelry with forged credit cards that contained the account information of unsuspecting consumers.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly added that while the crimes that were occurring in these cases weren’t violent, the results for the victims were devastating.
“These weren’t holdups at gunpoint , but the impact on victims was the same,” Kelly said. “They were robbed. We assigned detectives to financial crimes because of the potential victimization is so great, especially as the use of credits cards and their vulnerability to identity theft have grown along with the Internet.”
According to Brown, those arrested have been broken up into nine groups, based on the crimes that they are charged with and how closely they were working together.
Some of the groups have as many as 35 members, all contributing anything from stolen bank account and credit card numbers, to laundering money.
The charges in the case are numerous, and include enterprise corruption, identity theft, attempted robbery, grand larceny, conspiracy and more.