ID Theft Ring Leader SentencedComplex Scheme Resulted in $4 Million Worth of Fraud
The leader of an identity theft crime ring that used stolen Social Security numbers to commit credit card, bank and tax fraud has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role.
Sang-Hyun Park ran a criminal organization, based in Bergen County, N.J., known as Park Criminal Enterprise, that illegally obtained Social Security numbers of Asian immigrants, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey. The stolen identities were then used in a complex operation that resulted in $4 million worth of fraud.
In addition to the 12-year prison term, Park was ordered to pay restitution of almost $4.8 million. Park will be deported upon his release from prison.
The scheme led to charges against 54 individuals and spanned several states (see: ID Theft Ring Busted).
"Park presided over a criminal enterprise that was extraordinary in its scope and complexity," says U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. "The crimes for which he was sentenced put us all at risk, not just because of the cost to our financial institutions, but also because of the threat posed by fake identification documents. Fortunately, the law enforcement agents and prosecutors who target identity theft and organized crime were just as patient and painstaking as the defendants who designed and executed this scheme."
Identity Theft Scheme
Park illegally obtained Social Security numbers with the 568 prefix, which is typically issued to individuals from China who are employed in American territories, such as American Samoa, Guam and Saipan, prosecutors say. The numbers were sold to individuals who were then assisted by Park's organization in obtaining identification cards and driver's licenses.
Park and his conspirators also worked to fraudulently build up the credit scores associated with the stolen identities by employing teams who received a fee for adding those identities to their credit card accounts. Once credit scores were built up for the stolen identities, Park's organization helped its customers open bank accounts and obtain credit cards, which they then used to commit fraud, according to prosecutors.
The cards were used at merchants who participated in the scheme and received fees for their assistance, authorities say. The merchants would charge purchases to the credit cards, although no transaction took place, they say. Once the funds hit the retailers' accounts, the merchants gave the money to Park and his conspirators, minus a fee that the merchant received for their help in the scheme.
Park and his conspirators, in addition to the $4 million in fraudulent transactions, also claimed more than $182,000 in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service through filing false tax returns and accompanying documents, the U.S. attorney's office says.
Park had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and false identification documents; conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions and bank fraud; aggravated identity theft; money laundering; and conspiracy to defraud the IRS.