Articles Posted in Identity Theft

Only days ago, I published an entry regarding the new Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Having served as a member of that bureau’s predecessor, the Identity Theft Unit, during my seven years as a prosecutor under Robert Morgenthau, I commented on the necessity of such a unit despite my adversarial role as a New York criminal defense attorney. I don’t think anyone could argue the significance of this expanded bureau as schemes involving Identity Theft and Computer Crime continue to flourish in New York and beyond.

Although the most recent arrests and allegations stem from the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the purpose of such a unit or bureau has once again been made clear. According to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, twelve individuals, including five employees at PC Richards and Sons, have been arrested and indicted in a fraudulent credit card “bust out” scheme. The 92 count indictment charges Raza Chaudry, Reema Chaudry, Tahir Chaudry, Azadar Chaudry, Zishan Chaudry, Shaheen Akhtar. Hemet Adnand, Mathew Alli, Mohammad Aslam, David Francis, Benzy Jonny and Sheikh “Naveed” Zaheer with crimes including Grand Larceny, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Falsifying Business Records and Offering a False Instrument for Filing. Although they are not charged with the technical crime of Identity Theft, it is alleged that the “bust out” scheme involved stolen social security numbers. According to the Queens District Attorney’s Office, a search warrant resulted in the recovery of “Pakistani passports belonging to several of the defendants and bearing multiple names and dates of birth, blank Social Security cards, Canadian and New York driver’s licenses and binders containing in excess of 300 credit cards.”

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According to a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office press release, the New York County District Attorney has announced the formation of another “new” bureau. District Attorney Vance’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau technically ratchets up the current Identity Theft Unit to formally add the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime. In reality, many of the prosecutors assigned to the Major Case Section of the Identity Theft Unit had already been investigating and prosecuting these crimes. However, District Attorney Vance is taking the necessary steps to expand the unit into a bureau. Additionally, District Attorney Vance is increasing the number of prosecutors who will “specialize” in this area while further training them in this dynamic area of criminality and law.

From the perspective of law enforcement, a bureau such as this is a much needed arm of the District Attorney’s Office. The original unit, founded by two outstanding attorneys and prosecutors no longer with the office, was on the forefront of cybercrime and identity theft investigations when it was created in 2004. Having been one of the original prosecutors assigned to the Identity Theft Unit and the Major Case Section upon their respective creations, I not only learned from these two prosecutors and obtained training in forensics and the investigation of computer crimes, but witnessed firsthand the ease by which these crimes were perpetrated and the creativity of those who sought to benefit from this criminality. The transition of this unit into the new bureau not only displays District Attorney Vance’s recognition of the magnitude of these types of crimes, but is a testament to the dedication, work and efforts of the two founders of the unit as well as those currently working there, to bring the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office into the new era of identity theft and cybercrime investigations.

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. announced the arrest and indictment of Steven Mandala, a former stockbroker with the Maxim Group and Merrill Lynch. According to the District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Mandala stole $780,000 from Merill Lynch after he allegedly told Merrill Lynch that he was not only a partner at Maxim Group (he was merely an employee stockbroker making $100,000), but that he was in charge of managing $300 million of clients’ assets. As a result of his work with Maxim Group, prosecutors allege that Mr. Mandala claimed he generated $1.5 million in revenue. Due to Mr. Mandala’s claims, alleged “improvements” to his resume, and his assertion he was compensated in the neighborhood of $765,000 a year by Maxim Group, Merrill Lynch hired the stockbroker and advanced Mr. Mandala $780,000. As a result of his chicanery, which was somewhat less successful, Mr. Mandala was charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Money Laundering in the Second Degree, Identity Theft in the First Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.

Despite Mr. Mandala’s alleged claims that he managed $300 million and generated $1.5 million in revenue, it is alleged that Mr. Mandala not only rarely went to work, but that he brought in only $20,000 in new business. During he approximately two months as an employee at Merrill Lynch, it is alleged by prosecutors that Mr. Mandala deposited the $780,000 into his parents’ account and purchased a Ferrari under his father’s name. Mr. Mandala’s employment came to an end when he allegedly sent an email to Merrill Lynch indicating that he was not only resigning, but that all his personal effects should be discarded.

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You have been arrested with a print out of checking account numbers or a list of maiden names of ten different people. Although it is crumpled up in your wallet, you had not actually used the information or attempted to use that information. Well, is the mere possession of that personal information a violation of New York Penal Law Section 190.81, Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information?

Pursuant to NY PL 190.81, Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information:

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According to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, Yves Archin, a home health aide working for a 79 year old woman who recently passed away, was arrested by Ardsley (Westchester County) detectives. It is alleged that Ms. Arching perpetrated Identity Theft and other crimes on an unwitting woman under her care who had suffered from a stroke. According to news sources, Ms. Archin not only used the now deceased woman’s credit cards, but opened up fraudulent accounts using her personal information. As a result, it is alleged that Ms. Archin charged approximately $59,000 at stores including Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Target.

According to various news websites, the defendant is charged with Identity Theft in the First Degree (NY PL 190.80). Moreover, Ms. Archin is charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (NY 155.40) for the aggregation of her alleged thefts that exceeded $50,000 and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (NY PL 190.65(1)(c). Grand Larceny in the Second Degree is a “C” felony punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in state prison. Identity Theft in the First Degree is a “D” felony punishable by up to 2 and 2/3 to 7 years in state prison while Scheme to Defraud is an “E” felony punishable by up to 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in state prison.

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Saland Law PC, a Manhattan based white collar criminal defense firm representing clients throughout the New York City region, is pleased to announce another tremendous result for a client in the arena of fraud and theft allegations. Our client, charged on two separate dockets, allegedly defrauded approximately $35,000 from one individual and approximately $35,000 from a second individual. Prosecutors charged our client with twenty-five felonies in the two criminal court complaints including Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (NY PL 155.35), Forgery in the Second Degree (NY PL 170.10), Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (NY PL 170.25) and Identity Theft in the First Degree (NY PL 190.80). Prosecutors alleged that our client stole these monies through drafting checks without permission and using credit cards, including a corporate business card, without authority to do so. Despite the large value of the alleged theft, approximately $70,000 between two people, Saland Law PC attacked the veracity of one of the complainants as well the length of time between the incident and the reporting of the theft. Moreover, investigation revealed that this complainant may have been trying to “hide” money from his spouse. After further investigation and challenging the prosecution regarding their ability to prove the $35,000 theft beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors dismissed all of the charges. Although we were not as successful with the second felony case as we were with the first case, Saland Law PC negotiated a tremendous disposition on the second matter as well. In the second case, prosecutors agreed to a misdemeanor plea for Petit Larceny (the “shoplifting” statute) as well as Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. Although the complainant and prosecutors presented us with documentation for a significant portion of the $35,000 as well as a signed stipulation by our client that she in fact owed these monies, we successfully argued that despite the admission and documentation, the facts of the case would establish that the complainant was not being forthright. Even if true, the value of the alleged loss was exaggerated and our client signed the agreement under duress. Fortunately, through our investigation and diligence, we were able to corroborate our position thereby weakening the ability of the prosecution to prove the theft and the loss amount beyond a reasonable doubt. After all of our efforts working with our client for over a year to avoid a felony or jail, the court sentenced our client on the misdemeanor plea to three years of probation (no jail) and $20,000 in total restitution. As this client learned, each case is unique and requires its own analysis and defense. Whether it takes one month or one year, some felony fraud cases can be negotiated to a lesser offense while others ultimately may not. Furthermore, some cases may require a trial to prove one’s innocence where a real risk may be present of a conviction and accompanying jail. Whatever result you are seeking and whether or not it is actually attainable, it is imperative that your counsel be a knowledgeable and a zealous advocate who keeps you informed throughout the process as it unfolds.

He may have loved the book, theatrical performance or even the movie, but Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau is not a fan of real life Oliver Twists. According to reports, the New York County District Attorney’s Office unsealed a 639 count indictment involving the arrests of 15 alleged pickpocket crew members. The defendants, including Arthur Franklin, Jospeh Simms, Vincent Franklin, James Mannix, Kathleen Miller, Carol Dibitetto, Larry Ford, Kandra Lysland, Tina Barboza, Mary Bennett and Yvonne Harris are alleged to have stolen over $600,000 and compromised at least 60 bank accounts. The 639 count indictment includes numerous felonies such as Grand Larceny, Identity Theft, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Conspiracy, Scheme to Defraud, Attempted Grand Larceny, Forgery and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. It is interesting to note that prosecutors did not charge the defendants with Enterprise Corruption. While there could be numerous reasons, it is possible that the crew had no ascertainable structure, but was alleged to be more consistent with a loose knit band of thieves. Regardless, the scheme is purported to have operated for at least one year before the arrests and indictments.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, vigilant investigators at Chase Bank reviewed video surveillance of fraudulent transactions and noticed a common theme of women wearing wigs and glasses. Further investigation revealed that Arthur Franklin, Vincent Franklin and Joseph Simms were present either inside or outside the bank when the transactions occurred. Chase Bank put the dots together when they learned that many of the victims of the fraudulent bank transactions were also victims of pickpockets.

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The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office issued a press release involving the arrest and indictment of Adeniyi Adeyemi, a computer technician employed by the Bank of New York Melon. The 138 count Identity Theft and Grand Larceny indictment accuses the defendant of stealing the identities of 150 bank employees while perpetrating a $1.1 million dollar fraud. The fraud and thefts were alleged to have transpired from 2001 through 2009.

It is alleged that the victims of these crimes were many co-workers of Mr. Adeyemi who worked in the information technology group of Bank of New York Melon. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Adeyemi “opened over 30 bank and brokerage accounts in their identities with several financial institutions, including E*Trade, Fidelity, Citi, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual. These accounts served as dummy accounts for the purpose of receiving stolen funds. Mr. Adeyemi then stole money from the bank accounts of charities and non-profit organizations and funneled it into the dummy accounts, later withdrawing the stolen funds or transferring them to a second layer of dummy accounts.”

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Throughout New York City, from Manhattan and the Bronx to Queens and Brooklyn, prosecutors have seen an enormous increase in crimes relating to Identity Theft pursuant to New York Penal Law sections 190.78, 190.79 and 190.80. This increase in related crimes has resulted in extensive investigations and indictments of single individuals as well as global organizations such as the Western Express Cybercrime Group and its members Viatcheslav Vasilyev, Vladimir Kramarenko, Egor Shevelev, Dzimitry Burak and Oleg Kovelin. As a former Manhattan prosecutor who was the most senior ADA assigned to the Identity Theft Major Case Section upon that unit’s creation, I not only have extensive experience prosecuting and building cases against those accused of Identity Theft crimes, but representing those charged with these offenses as well. Before discussing scenarios involving these offenses, this entry will deal specifically with the crime of Identity Theft in the Third Degree (NY Penal Law 190.78) and the relevant underlying definitions. Future entries will address Identity Theft in the Second (NY Penal Law 190.79) and First Degree (NY Penal Law 190.80).

Here we go…

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As a follow up to my earlier post, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has announced a 227 count indictment of 18 individuals in an identity theft and check fraud scheme. As I correctly noted in the original post, these defendants are alleged to have perpetrated a scheme involving the crimes of Grand Larceny, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Identity Theft, Conspiracy, Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information and Scheme to Defraud. As a former Manhattan prosecutor who was one of the first assigned to the Identity Theft Unit upon its creation, I know the Identity Theft Unit will vigorously and thoroughly prosecute the alleged offenders. Depending on the individual and their applicable charges, the defendants face up to 25 years in state prison.

The defendants include:

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