The extent and amount of fraud that is perpetrated by Identity Theft is staggering. As a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office who spearheaded many multi-million dollar Identity Theft, Forgery and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument investigations, arrests and indictments, I have certainly dealt with the underbelly of these financial crimes. As a New York criminal defense lawyer and IdentityTheft defense attorney, I have also represented numerous individuals accused of the same allegations that I prosecuted for years. While I have yet to be shocked by the means in which these crimes are committed or the extent of the alleged criminal networks involved, it seems clear to me that Identity Theft will be the central or greatest crime of our generation.
Along these lines, according to New York City newspapers, the NYPD has arrested four men in another alleged large scale Identity Theft ring. It is alleged that at least four Los Angeles and Las Vegas men (Garegin Spartalyan, Aram Martirosian, Hayk Dzhandzhapanyan and David Kudugulyan) and possible other accomplices, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manhattan banks by utilizing bogus or fraudulent credit cards to withdraw money and cash. More specifically, its is claimed by the NYPD that the accused were caught after one or more of the men attempted to withdraw money from "flagged" bank accounts. Further, upon investigation and the execution of search warrants, $198,000 in money orders as well as $16,000 in cash with 200 fake credit cards were recovered from a hotel room. This was on top of the $5,000 and 92 debit cards and $16,000 and 82 debit cards allegedly recovered from two of the defendants.
Although there is no press release as of yet from Cyrus Vance's Manhattan District Attorney's Office, there is no doubt in my mind that the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau is chomping at the bit to make a big splash with this case. In fact, if true, the felony complaint alleges well in excess of 350 felony offenses. Once prosecutors present these cases to the Grand Jury, which they very likely will, it would not be shocking if the number of crimes increases.
If prosecutors can aggregate the thefts and stolen property or tie each of the defendants' to possession of stolen funds in excess of $50,000, the defendants will face Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 155.40) and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 165.52) charges. In doing so, prosecutors would need to tie the men to the $198,000 worth of money orders retrieved from a hotel room or aggregate other stolen funds. A "C" felony, each defendant would face up to fifteen years in prison.
Irrespective of the monies recovered in excess of $50,000, the defendants will face Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument (New York Penal Law 170.25) charges for each fraudulent debit card. Similarly, any possession or theft of more than $3,000, but no more than $50,000, that is not aggregated will result in a charge of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 155.35). Lastly, each defendant will face charges of Identity Theft in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 190.80) if and when prosecutors can proved that the defendants used the personal identifying information (the debit card and bank accounts, for example) to either obtains more than $2,000 of money or perpetrated this crime while also possessing the Forged Instruments. All of these crimes are "D" felonies punishable by up to seven years in prison.
As I noted above, I served as a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney. In fact, I served as one of the first members of the Identity Theft Unit Major Case Section that the current Cybrercime and Identity Theft Bureau is based. I am a criminal defense attorney in New York City and I am well versed in these crimes. With this experience I am comfortable asserting that the Manhattan DA's Office will come down firmly and with tremendous force against these men. DA Vance does not tolerate these crimes in NYC. In fact, a man who was involved in an Identity Theft scheme at numerous high end steakhouses was just sentenced to up to twelve years in prison. Waiting to identify their defense and set that defense into motion is something these men cannot afford to do.
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A New York criminal defense firm representing clients accused of Identity Theft, Grand Larceny, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, the founding New York criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC dedicate their practice to NYC area criminal defense.