Tuesday, February 1, 2011
ID Theft Ring Targets Apple Stores
About two dozen people have been charged with stealing credit card data and using it to make counterfeit credit cards that they used to buy and resell goods across the country, according to an indictment filed on Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
The ring stole nearly $1 million, using the forged credit cards to buy items like iPods and MacBooks in cities including New York; Los Angeles; Indianapolis; Orlando, Fla.; and Las Vegas, according to court documents.
The defendants, some of whom were arraigned on Tuesday, have been charged with numerous counts of grand larceny and possessing forged instruments. The top count of second-degree grand larceny carries a sentence of up to 15 years.
The indictments were the result of a joint investigation by the Cybercrimes Unit of the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the United States Secret Service. Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, is expected to announce the indictments at a news conference on Wednesday.
Shaheed Bilal, one of the defendants, used a Yahoo e-mail account to receive, send and store the stolen credit card information, according to the indictment. Even after he was jailed last May, the indictment says, Mr. Bilal still directed the operation by giving instructions by telephone to Ophelia Alleyne, who has also been charged.
Thousands of stolen credit card numbers were recovered in the e-mail account of Mr. Bilal, said Elizabeth Roper, an assistant district attorney who spoke in court.
One of the primary members of the operation, Ms. Roper said, was Gil Einhorn, who had hundreds of thousands of dollars moving in and out of his bank accounts. Mr. Einhorn was seen on surveillance footage accepting “large bundles of items believed to be stolen electronic goods,” she said.
Mr. Einhorn’s lawyer, Steven Kartagener, said, “I’m confident in the end, when all the facts come out, this fundamentally decent young man will be vindicated.”