Five major credit unions, including Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union, and hundreds of individuals were allegedly targeted, officials said.
Over the course of a year, the alleged ringleader of the "highly sophisticated" operation filed more than 100 credit union loan requests using stolen identities of people with good credit, from all over the country, officials said.
The ring apparently targeted doctors and teachers, people with seemingly good credit, and found their identities from various sources, including school and hospital websites. It then harvested additional information about them from the Dark Web, created profiles with their information, and ran their credit reports.
The loans, taken out in amounts ranging from $7,500 to $35,000, were filed electronically under the stolen identities, using the names and social security numbers of the individuals. In many of the cases, a money order was used to open the loan, and once the credit union approved it, the loan money was deposited into bank accounts opened in the victims' names.
Officials said one suspect worked at Capital One as a banker and allegedly stolen account information and sold it to other members of the ring for $500 a piece. She also opened accounts for the ring to use under victims' names.
Another suspect ran a credit repair service from his Brooklyn home.
The ring was allegedly able to successfully steal more than $200,000 and used it for personal expenses, including car loans, rent, and airline tickets. Officials said that amount is expected to increase as they recover evidence from search warrants.
The scheme came to light when the credit unions became aware of certain loans that were in arrears, and the suspects were arrested after a six-month-long investigation.
"The biggest red flag was opening with money orders, that's how we identified the authorities, said, you know, something's going on here,'" said Valerie Gargulio of Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas called this case "one of the largest identity theft cases we have ever investigated."
Those arrests include:
-- 36-year-old Dacson Sears, of Brooklyn, who was charged with two counts of grand larceny, three counts of identity theft, and scheme to defraud.
-- 32-year-old Nyantakyi Boateng, Perth Amboy, New Jersey, who was charged with two counts of grand larceny, identity theft, and scheme to defraud. Boateng is a former college football player, both at University of Florida and University of California. He also played pre-season as a wide receiver for the New York Giants.
-- 28-year-old Konstantinos Toikas, of Brooklyn, who was charged with grand larceny, identity theft, and scheme to defraud.
-- 25-year-old Amber Mantock, of Queens, who was charged with grand larceny, identity theft, and scheme to defraud.
-- 26-year-old Summer Aboushady, of Queens, who was charged with scheme to defraud, six counts of falsifying business records, and unlawful possession of personal identification information.
The investigation into this case continues, and if you believe you may be a victim, please contact the NCDA's Financial Crimes Bureau at 516-571-2149.
In order to prevent identity theft, experts recommend ordering one free credit report every four months. Note any strange addresses that may come up on that report.
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