Manhattan DA: “S3” Identity Theft Crew Uses Others’ Identity to Fraudulently Purchase and Fence Apple Merchandise

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. announced earlier today that his office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau has taken down and arrested a 27 person Identity Theft ring based out of Brooklyn, New York. Prosecutors allege that “S3,” as the crew calls themselves, “compromised hundreds of bank accounts,and fraudulently purchased Apple products from stores around the country to resell for profit.”

It is claimed that these Identity Theft bandits obtained personal identifying information of their victims by purchasing this information online through people who trafficked the data. Once the alleged fraudsters obtained the information, including credit card numbers, the leaders recruited individuals who would shop in stores with the credit card numbers. The shoppers duped Apple employees after ring leaders allegedly created fraudulent and counterfeit credit cards and placed the stolen credit card number onto the magnetic strip of the counterfeit credit card. Armed with a counterfeit credit card in the name of a shopper, these hired guns allegedly made the Apple purchases for items including iPads and MacBooks.

It is likely that this scheme was perpetrated in such a manner because if an employee asked to see the credit card along with other identification, then the shopper could produce corroboration that the fake credit card belonged to him or her. Sadly for these victims, employees of Apple are partially responsible for failing the public. It appears that Apple employees may not have taken the next step to actually look at receipts to see if the receipt matched the name on the card as it often does. Unfortunately, this type of scheme has become less and less newsworthy, not because it is insignificant, but because it has become relatively easy to perpetrate as technology expands.

According to law enforcement, search warrants on S3 properties and accounts resulted in the recovery of the tools to create the fraudulent credit cards along with firearms and $300,000.

The alleged S3 ring members include:

Shaheed Bilal (“Sha”), Ophelia Allene (“Philly”), Ali Bilal (“Acki”), Isaac Bilal (“I.B.”), Rahim Bilal (“Marlo” and “Starlo”), Marcus Artis (“Bling”), Jamara Bennett (“Killz”), Shanaya Bethea (“Naya”), Gil Einhorn, Trashawn Frails (“Spot”), Darnell Gibbs (“Butter Luv”), Anthony Harper (“Ant”), Tsaiquain Irby-Bacon, Tetee Morrison, Ashley Pennicott and Shadu Wagner.

In varying degrees and capacities, the defendants are charged with:

One count of the “C” felony of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, four counts of “D” felonies of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and twenty seven counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, and fifteen counts of the “E” felonies of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and one Count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.

A second indictment charges these and other members of S3 including:

Anthony Harper, Harvin Eigner (“I.G.”), Hasba Flynn-Hakim, Tyesha Halls, Brian Hanna, Desjeuner Knight (“Fat Girl” – tough alias, huh), Sheneik McCallum, Ahmad Mohsen (“Mike”), Edna Nixon (“Nina”), Joshua Simon (“Dog” – not to be confused with “Dogg”) and Malkia Walker (“Kia”).

This indictment charges one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, six counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, one count of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and one count Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.

“C,” “D,” and “E” felonies are punishable by up to fifteen, seven, and four years in prison respectively. Interestingly, although charged with similar level offenses, if the District Attorney press release is correct, the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau did not charge the alleged Identity Theft perpetrators with the actual crime of Identity Theft. One possible reason is that the crime of Identity Theft may not have actually occurred in Manhattan even though jurisdiction for the crime can be in New York if either the crime was perpetrated or the victim lives here. What is more likely is that the additional crime of Identity Theft did not bring into the case evidence that would otherwise not be admissible. In other words, whether or not Identity Theft was charged, the same evidence would come out at trial as to how the defendants allegedly perpetrated the other crimes.

Extensive information regarding the crimes of Identity Theft, Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument can be found through the respective links. Additional information regarding other cases in the news, legal decisions and criminal statutes can be found on the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog.

Founded by two former prosecutors who served in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC represent the accused in all criminal matters throughout the New York City region. Jeremy Saland, one of our partners, was assigned to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Identity Theft Unit and Major Case Section upon the creation of the division.

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