NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City prosecutors announced an indictment against 39 people in an apparent cybercrime organization Wednesday.
The suspects allegedly carried out a “debit card cracking” scheme in which they created counterfeit checks that they then deposited into bank accounts and then withdrew those funds before the fraud could be detected, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said.
According to prosecutors, the suspects deposited more than $2.5 million in counterfeit checks and successfully withdrew $1 million.
“This group was taking down between $30,000 and $40,000 a week. This is a lot of money,” said NYPD Chief of Detective Robert Boyce. ”
More than 650 separate bank accounts at seven banks were used to carry out the scheme, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said social media was used to recruit younger people who were willing to use their bank accounts to deposit the forged checks into.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, the suspects were pitching a lavish lifestyle for anyone who wanted it. They allegedly posted photos on Instagram and Snapchat of people living the high life, sitting in high-priced cars and flashing wads of cash.
The idea: join us and join in the fun and in the money.
“What the defendants are selling is a fast money lifestyle – gentlemen in a hot tub – easy money. The scheme was designed to attract younger folks to make a quick buck,” Vance said.
The bank account holders who were drawn in then handed over their debit cards and bank information in exchange for the promise of money, sometimes given a minimal amount up to a few hundred dollars and promised thousands later.
“The essential pitch is that if you give me your debit card, and thus access to your bank account, I’m going to deposit some checks in that account, I’m going to take the money out and you’re going to get part of that money. Later on, just report your card lost or stolen, make a police report, no one will ever find out that you did this, don’t worry about it,” said Daniel Holmes, from the Manhattan DA’s office.
The defendants include 34 men and five women between the ages of 19 and 32. Many of them live in Staten Island.
“We’ve taken these cases around the city before, in Brooklyn and other places. But never have we seen this much money pass,” said Boyce.
“A big time case, high-end vehicles — four we grabbed this morning — a Porsche, two BMWs and an Infiniti sedan. We see what they are selling and these young people are actually buying into it,” Boyce added.