Two Jersey City men were among five arrested for a credit card scheme that defrauded banks for over $2.5 million, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Talat Ali Maan, 44, of Germantown, Maryland, Syed Rehman, 51, of Jersey City, Kashif Idrees, 36, of Germantown, Jaheed Wahed Ahmed, 54, of Jersey City, and Fatou Djambo, 37, of Philadelphia, are each charged with one count of conspiring to defraud financial institutions, Carpenito said in a statement.
Ahmed and Idrees remain at large as of this writing, authorities said.
The defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme to use stolen and fraudulently altered identities to obtain credit cards from banks and then use those credit cards to make purchases that they had no intention to repay, leaving the banks to bear the losses of the scheme, according to the criminal complaint.
Specifically, the defendants stole the identities of actual people and then, in many cases, created “synthetic identities” by pairing the name and social security number for an actual person with a fictitious birth date, officials said.
When creating the false identities, the defendants often used the name and social security number of an actual minor and combined them with a fictitious birth date that made the identity appear to be that of an adult, court documents show.
The defendants then allegedly used the stolen and synthetic identities to obtain lines of credit, primarily through opening credit card accounts at banks.
These cards were maintained in good standing with the banks long enough to establish the creditworthiness of the stolen and synthetic identities.
Furthermore, the group then “busted out” the cards by making large purchases and never repaying the debts associated with those purchases, authorities said.
Additionally, the defendants also incorporated and registered in various states numerous purported companies that did little or no legitimate business.
Under the guise of these fraudulent businesses, they allegedly obtained credit card processing equipment by opening merchant processing accounts in the names of these sham companies and then used that equipment to make the charges on the fraudulent credit cards.
On top of that, Rehman maintained a Jersey City convenience store located at the same address as a gas station. From time to time, the defendants used that business to make charges to the fraudulent cards, officials said.
The defendants also used the fraudulent cards to purchase merchandise from a Secaucus warehouse store that they then sold for a profit at the convenience store.
Along the same lines, they routinely used “drop addresses” in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland as the purported mailing addresses for the phony cards and the sham companies.
The charge of conspiring to defraud financial institutions carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
Carpenito also credited special agents of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Ruth Mendonca, with the investigation leading to today’s arrests.