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    New York Times: 111 Charged in Elaborate Identity-Theft Scheme

    The New York Times reports on an identity theft case in New York that has international ties:

    A total of 111 people have been indicted in an identity-theft scheme that originated largely in the back rooms of Queens restaurants, the authorities said on Friday, and then mushroomed into a worldwide network of counterfeiters, hackers, fences and thieves who made off with an estimated $13 million in fraudulent purchases.

    The investigation, dubbed Operation Swiper, uncovered ties to criminal enterprises in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the authorities said. […]

    The charges involve defrauding thousands of people over the course of 16 months, from May 2010 until this September. Often, the police said, the criminals obtained victims’ credit card information from restaurant employees who used hand-held skimming machines. Overseas hackers and confederates working in banks also played a role in stealing personal information, they said.

    Other members of the ring then forged credit cards using the stolen account information and went on weekly shopping sprees in California, Chicago, Texas and other places. Apple electronics were favorite purchases, as well as designer clothes, including Louis Vuitton and Gucci. The goods were then fenced and the cash pocketed, the police said.

    Some members of the ring resorted to more old-fashioned crime, the authorities said, targeting a cargo shipment at Kennedy International Airport for theft, and planning to rob a bank in Forest Hills, Queens — both plots, the police said, were tracked and disrupted.

    Here’s the Queens County District Attorney’s press release (pdf) with more details on Operation Swiper.

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