Operation Described As The Largest Of Its Kind In The Nation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The takedown of an identity theft and counterfeit credit card ring based in South Ozone Park, Queens is being described as the largest of its kind in the nation, with 111 defendants indicted following a two-year probe dubbed “Operation Swiper.”

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Bank tellers, restaurant workers and other service employees in New York City are among those accused of stealing to pay for luxury shopping sprees, stays at 5-star hotels and travel in rented Lamborghinis, Porsches and private jets, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.

Authorities said there were five distinct groups running the identity theft and credit card scams and that they often worked with each other. Undercover cops and wiretaps were used to bust the alleged crime ring, which involved the re-selling of high-end electronics, watches and more.

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Police searched several homes and seized computers, packaged electronics, weapons and $650,000 in cash.

“These weren’t hold-ups at gunpoint but the impact on victims was the same,” NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. “They were robbed.”

According to police, the scam worked by giving data stolen from swiped credit cards to a team of manufacturers, who made phony credit cards and identifications.

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In addition to having the material to make the phony cards, the accused often utilized bank employees to identify high-end clients, according to authorities. They’d also give retail store employees skimmers to steal information off a customer’s card.

WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell With Comment From Ray Kelly

The suspects are accused of spending more than $13 million on their shopping sprees.

“Even after the culprits are caught and prosecuted, their victims are still faced with the difficult task of having to repair their credit ratings and financial reputations,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “In some cases, that process can take years.”

Kelly and Brown said Friday the group had ties to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

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