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Tenafly ID theft scammer who cost lenders $2.5 million gets two years in federal pen

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

CVP OUT FRONT FROM THE START: A massive federal prosecution of members of a large-scale identity theft ring has been winding down, and today a federal judge in Newark sentenced a Tenafly con man who played a key role in the “crime superstore” to two years in federal prison for scamming banks and other lenders out of $2.5 million.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Katherine S. Hayden ordered Ho K. “Edmund” to pay $3,400,412 in restitution.


CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAD IT FIRST (Jan. 9, 2011): Government prosecutors started at the bottom of a “cr ime superstore” that stole identities from people in Asia to get credit they used to buy fancy cars, fine whiskey and designer shoes, among other luxuries — and today finally reached the summit with a guilty plea from the confessed ringleader from Palisades Park. READ MORE….


UPDATE: (Jan. 25, 2012): Hyun-Yop “James” Sung, 43, of Carlstadt pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to conspiring to commit identify theft and credit card fraud with Park.


Yu, 60, admitted participating in three separate rackets. In one,
he helped obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in small business loans for unqualified borrowers by submitting bogus loan applications and supporting documents. Most of the loans defaulted, the government said.

In another, he obtained personal loans for unqualified buyers, ginning up false tax returns and W-2 forms — with the same end result.

Yu also conspired with ringleader Sang-Hyun “Jimmy” Park to build bogus credit scores for customers.

Park copped a plea in January

, admitting his role in conspiring to make bogus ID, committing wire fraud and bank fraud, and laundering money.

Park was at the top of the government’s organization chart of

53 people arrested in a massive fraud ring that bilked banks and other financial establishments by stealing the identities of Asian immigrants who worked in Guam and other American territories. Most have taken pleas; a few still await sentencing.

Once they secured the IDs, the scam artists got credit cards and bank loans that they used to treat themselves to luxury cars, fine whiskey, designer shoes. Some even got cash advances, federal authorities said.

The bills ended up going to people on the other side of the globe who had no idea what happened. The banks, in turn, took the losses.



Park was so brazen that he advertised in local Korean newspapers that “he and his co-conspirators could obtain driver’s licenses, credit cards, and money for their customers, virtually all of whom were of Korean descent,” according to the original 138-page federal arrest complaint.

Special Agent-in-Charge Michael Ward, who heads the FBI’s Newark division, dubbed the operation “a virtual crime superstore, with one-stop shopping for a variety of criminal needs.” He called the extent of the fraud “substantial, if not staggering.”

Yet the government chased down those involved and secured dozens of guilty pleas. With so many people willing to present their version of the events, Park had little choice but to accept a plea deal that will put him in federal prison for several years.

The

crew got Social Security cards from various brokers — most with the prefix 586 — issued to Chinese workers in American Samoa, Guam and Saipan. They sold the cards for $5,000 to $7,000 and then helped customers from in and around PalPark get driver’s licenses and other identification cards from various states, Kim admitted.

A little finagling helped the group build credit scores to between 700 and 800, authorities said. With those numbers, they were able to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards, lines of credits and loans guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

One bogus firm, called CB Development Company, produced phony documents – such as counterfeit certificates of trade and fictitious tax returns – to secure lines of credit and commercial loans for herself and her co-conspirators. Then they

t ransferred the funds into their bank accounts so they could withdraw the cash and write checks,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.

Many of these lines of credit and loans were guaranteed by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), which helps small businesses by guaranteeing loans issued by certain banks.

Colluding merchants, many of them Korean, helped Park’s group obtain cash by swiping credit cards for phantom goods and services, Fishman said. Park’s group also used the cards to buy expensive merchandise and liquor, he said.

The defendants also deposited checks into accounts with insufficient funds and withdrew money before anyone noticed, the feds said. They also wrote checks to pay down credit cards and then charged them to the maximum, Fishman said.

In one case, ring members leased Lexuses or Mercedes, make one payment, then sold the cars, the FBI said.

One of the defendants, Yoon-Sang Kim of Allendale, was arrested in Fort Lee while driving a vehicle registered to his wife, authorities said. In the car, police found several counterfeit IDs with Kim’s photograph in other people’s names, some of which were used to open bogus bank accounts.

Authorities won’t say who tipped them off to the breadth of the operation, although some observers would put their money on Choi, who it’s believed struck a deal with local prosecutors for leniency in exchange for inside information about the crew.

Authorities said Choi, 35, of Valley Stream, N.Y., stole several credit cards from one of the victims, pulled $100,000 from the accounts, then flew to Los Angeles, where he was arrested on May 18, 2008, on a warrant out of Bergen County. Police said he was carrying $88,000 in cash, $14,000 in casino chips, 27 credit cards, two driver’s licenses, and two identification cards — none in his name — when he was arrested.

There’s plenty of praise to go around for bringing such a case — one that not only puts criminals behind bars but collects a huge chunk of the money they stole. Fishman cited, among others, special agents from the SBA as well as from Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli’s office and the Englewood Police Department. Prosecuting the intricate case were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jane Yoon and Anthony Moscato of Fishman’s Criminal Division in Newark.

It was more than a year ago when the defendants were rousted from their beds early in the morning in Palisades Park, Tenafly, River Edge and elsewhere and brought to FBI headquarters by hundreds of federal and local investigators.


RELATED STORIES (Click on headlines to read):

‘Crime super store’ sold stolen IDs used to defraud banks of millions… and?

Thursday, 16 September 2010 17:53 Jerry DeMarco

EDITORIAL : Federal authorities swept up dozens of Bergen County residents and others early Thursday in connection with a “crime superstore” that sold stolen identities that helped customers open lines of credit and conduct other types of illicit business. The victims? Banks and credit card companies.


Men admit roles in Asian ID theft ring that made millions

Monday, 20 June 2011 16:41 Jerry DeMarco

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Two men admitted their roles in a sophisticated identity theft ring, based in Palisades Park, that made millions of dollars by distributing counterfeit Social Security cards, driver’s licenses and passports for Asian immigrants in exchange for hefty fees.


Korean immigrant from Bergen admits role in crime ‘super store’ that stole millions

Thursday, 11 August 2011 12:54 Jerry DeMarco

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: A Korean immigrant living in Edgewater today admitted her connection to a “crime superstore” that stole identities from people in Asia to get credit cards and bank loans they then used to buy fancy cars, fine whiskey and designer shoes, among other luxuries. As part of her plea, she agreed to repay the government $1.23 million.



Two more ID thieves plead guilty in ‘crime superstore’

Thursday, 13 October 2011 18:24 Jerry DeMarco

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: A former Ridgefield resident today admitted his role in a “crime superstore” that stole identities from people in Asia to get credit cards and bank loans they then used to buy fancy cars, fine whiskey and designer shoes, among other luxuries.



Members of Bergen ID theft ‘superstore’ in federal court

Thursday, 20 October 2011 21:01 Jerry DeMarco

BEHIND THE STORY: The final pins continue to fall in the federal probe of a Bergen County-based “crime superstore” that stole identities from people in Asia to get credit cards and bank loans that were used to buy fancy cars, fine whiskey and designer shoes:


Four more Bergen-based ID theft ‘superstore’ defendants admit guilt

Tuesday, 01 November 2011 16:06 Jerry DeMarco

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: The parade of pleas continued today: A Fort Lee man was one of four people who admitted their roles in a Bergen County-based “crime superstore” that stole identities from people in Asia to get credit cards and bank loans that were used to buy fancy cars, fine whiskey and designer shoes. Dozens have also pleaded guilty and have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing.



Leader of massive Bergen ID theft ring admits guilt

Tuesday, 29 November 2011 17:21 Jerry DeMarco

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: Federal authorities secured a guilty plea today by the second-in-command of a Bergen County-based “crime superstore” that stole identities from people in Asia to get credit cards and bank loans that were used to buy fancy cars, fine whiskey and designer shoes.


Prison term for Palisades Park man in ID theft ‘crime superstore’

Monday, 19 December 2011 10:51 Jerry DeMarco

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Palisades Park man was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison today for his role in a Bergen County-based identity theft ring.



Major player in Bergen ID theft ring sentenced to federal time

Tuesday, 20 December 2011 10:48 Jerry DeMarco

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: A Korean immigrant living in Edgewater was sentenced today to 65 months in federal prison for her role in a “crime superstore” that stole identities from people in Asia to get credit they used to buy fancy cars, fine whiskey and designer shoes, among other luxuries.


Ringleader admits role in identity theft ‘crime superstore’

Monday, 09 January 2012 17:30 Jerry DeMarco

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: Government prosecutors started at the bottom of a “cr ime superstore” that stole identities from people in Asia to get credit they used to buy fancy cars, fine whiskey and designer shoes, among other luxuries — and today finally reached the summit with a guilty plea from the confessed ringleader from Palisades Park.


Another sentence in large-scale ID theft: Ridgefield woman gets federal prison time

Monday, 05 March 2012 15:39 Jerry DeMarco

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: A Ridgefield woman was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison today for her role in a Bergen County-based “crime superstore” that stole identities from people in Asia to get credit cards and bank loans that were used to buy fancy cars, fine whiskey and designer shoes.




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