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Queens Chronicle

111 indicted in identity theft bust

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Posted: Friday, October 7, 2011 4:28 pm | Updated: 4:36 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Queens District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD on Friday announced 111 indictments in what they are calling the largest takedown of an identity theft operation in U.S. history.

DA Richard Brown and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said 86 defendants had been arrested as of Friday morning, with an additional 25 still at large.
They are believed to be members of five operations all based in Queens.

“This is by far the largest — and certainly among the most sophisticated — identity theft/credit card fraud cases that law enforcement has come across,” Brown said.  The group is believed to be responsible for the theft of $13 million over a 16-month period.

Brown said the investigation, called Operation Swiper, began in Ozone Park in October 2009 with an investigation by the NYPD’s Identity Theft Squad and his own office’s Economic Crimes Bureau.

The trail eventually led to Florida, California and Puerto Rico, with suspects having ties to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The thefts included forged credit cards and documents, which were used by organized groups to purchase merchandise across the country, including at local establishments such as the Queens Center Mall and Roosevelt Field in Garden City, LI.

Some store owners and store employees also were in on the thefts.

Some of the suspects also allegedly have ties to other crimes in the area, such as conspiracy to commit bank robbery in Forest Hills; the theft of more than $95,000 in cargo from John F. Kennedy International Airport; and the alleged theft of about $850,000 worth of computer equipment from the Citigroup Building in Long Island City.

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