Wednesday, February 15, 2012


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Indictments announced in organized check fraud and money laundering ring

NEW YORK – A forged check and money laundering ring based in Brooklyn that compromised at least 30 bank accounts at JP Morgan Chase Bank (“Chase Bank”) and Citibank, and stole more than $150,000 has been taken down.   Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., announced the indictment of 37 individuals All of the defendants are charged with Conspiracy, and the ringleaders are additionally charged with Grand Larceny, Money Laundering, and in some cases, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and Identity Theft.

The charges arise from a joint investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, the NYPD’s Special Frauds Squad, the United States Secret Service Credit Card Squad, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in New York City,” said Vance. “Dismantling these increasingly sophisticated conspiracies requires the kind of multi-agency coordination and partnership that led to today’s charges. My Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to prosecute criminal rings that steal personal identifying information for their own enrichment.”

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said: “These 21st century bank robbers didn’t rely on notes or guns, instead they stole identities, forged checks and withdrew thousands of dollars that didn’t belong to them. But our Financial Crimes Task Force was able to piece together digital clues and shut down their operation. I commend the NYPD detectives, federal investigators and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for catching these thieves.”

According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court, from approximately December 2009 to October 2010, ringleaders Earl Barranco, a/k/a “HOOD,” 25, Maurice Hilton, 24, Andre Bevans, 20, and JD Dap Cuz offered Chase Bank and Citibank accountholders money in exchange for access to their bank accounts. The defendants then created counterfeit checks using the account information of at least 30 uninvolved individuals and deposited these checks into the accounts owned by their co-conspirators. Once the funds were available for withdrawal, the defendants fraudulently withdrew or directed the withdrawal of money from tellers and ATM machines. The defendants also used the ATM cards of these Chase Bank and Citibank accountholders to purchase more than 250 United States Postal Money Orders fraudulently.

To date, the fraud has resulted in a loss of more than $100,000 from Chase Bank and more than $50,000 from Citibank. According to documents filed at court, Barranco used a portion of the stolen money to fund his lifestyle, which included purchases at luxury retail establishments, restaurants, and clubs.