As a NY criminal defense attorney and a former Manhattan prosecutor under Robert Morgenthau, I have defended or supervised numerous multi-million dollar investigations into Identity Theft, Credit Card Fraud, Forgery, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Grand Larceny, Falsifying Business Records and related fraud schemes. In fact, prior to starting Crotty Saland PC, I was assigned to the elite Identity Theft Unit when it was created by DA Morgenthau in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. In that capacity I received extensive training and hands on experience in the “trenches” and “front line” of Identity Theft and related crimes.
It comes as no surprise to me that another fraud scheme has reared its head and was ultimately broken up in Queens today. According to the Queens District Attorney’s Office, Operation Plastic Pipe Line began in 2007 and resulted in the multiple hundred count indictment for Enterprise Corruption and the arrest of dozens of people. It is alleged that this ring, led by Wole “Shola” Ogunwen, used multiple “cells” to defraud banks and steal the personal identification of thousands of people. In the last year alone, it is alleged that the financial loss exceeded twelve million dollars. To perpetrate the crime, these cells would use counterfeit credit cards, set up fake accounts, withdraw funds from banks and purchase products to be shipped overseas. With strong ties to Nigeria, it is further claimed that this ring operated on a global level.
As a former prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney experienced in these crimes, I know that this twenty one month Identity Theft investigation was likely supported by members of federal and state law enforcement who conducted surveillance, issued subpoenas, executed search warrants and worked relentlessly. I also know that these defendants need to retain experienced criminal counsel or the situation they find themselves in will go from bad to worse.