Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg

United States Attorney Garcia And State Attorney General Cuomo Announce Indictment Of 15 For Major Theft And Fraud
United States Attorney
Southern District of New York

MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and ANDREW CUOMO, the Attorney General of the State of New York, announced last Monday, August 20, the unsealing of an Indictment charging 15 individuals with crimes including producing fake identification documents, using those documents to commit various fraud crimes, and selling and transporting stolen vehicles. As alleged in the sixteen-count Indictment returned by the grand jury in Manhattan federal court:

The defendants and their co-conspirators produced false identification documents purporting to have been issued by state and federal government authorities, including driver’s licenses, resident alien cards, social security cards, and tax identification documents. The false identification documents were produced in the names of fraudulent identities, to which the defendants referred as “chickens.”

In order to build financial credit for these fake identities, the defendants, among other things, fraudulently established bank accounts, credit card accounts, apartment leases, and telephone and utility accounts in the names of the “chickens.” The defendants also applied for and obtained lucrative bank loans, home mortgage
loans, increased credit card limits, and other financial benefits in the names of the “chicken” identities or in the names of sham businesses supposedly operated by those fraudulent identities. The defendants and their co-conspirators then defaulted on the loans and credit card debt, causing at least $10 million in losses to numerous financial institutions.

In the course of the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators designated certain physical addresses as the mailing addresses for the “chicken” credit card accounts, and regularly monitored the mail at those addresses for incoming credit cards and account statements in the false names. They then used these cards to pay bills, make purchases, and obtain cash advances, often charging the maximum (or above the maximum) amount allowed on the cards and then defaulting on the bill.

Additionally, four of the defendants -- TAHIR ALI KHAN, SYED HASSAN, FRANKLIN RODRIGUEZ, AND BASHARAL JARRAL – are charged with stolen vehicle offenses involving luxury cars such as Hummers and a Porsche Cayenne.

TAHIR ALI KHAN is 30 years old, and resides in Alabama.
FAYYAZ AHMED is 40 years old, and is currently held at Riker’s Island, NY.
ARIE BENSHIMON is 35 years old and resides in Monsey, NY.
NAVEED ALI BHINDAR is 43 years old resides in Valley Stream, NY.
SYED HASSAN is 33 years old and resides in Staten Island, NY.
MUHAMMAD ISHAQ is 34 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
BASHARAT JARRAL is 49 years old and resides in Elmhurst, NY.
NADEEM KHAN is 24 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
GHULAM MEHMOOD is 40 years old and resides in Cartaret, NJ.
SHAHEEN MUKHTAR is 53 years old and resides in Voorhees, NJ.
QAISER QURESHI is 53 years old and resides in Queens, NY.
FRANKLIN RODRIGUEZ is 21 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
SYED SHAH is 23 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
OSCAR SANCHEZ is 37 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.
PRADIPT SHARMA is 31 years old and resides in Brooklyn, NY.

The filing of these charges is the culmination of a 16-month investigation conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office with the New York City Police Department, New York State Police, the Hoover, Alabama Police Department, and the New York State Banking Department. Valuable assistance was provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the New York City Department of Probation, the Social Security Administration, and the United States Secret Service.

Mr. GARCIA praised the Attorney General’s Office and the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for their outstanding work in the investigation. Mr. GARCIA stated: “Through the cooperation of federal and state prosecutors, and the investigative work of federal, state and local agencies, we have dismantled a fraud ring of 15 defendants who used false identities to obtain at least $10 million through a wide variety of scams.”

“These defendants are charged with creating a comprehensive system of fraud for ripping off businesses to satisfy their own greed. One of these individuals is even charged with attempting to purchase $10,000 worth of Lowe’s gift cards using a credit card obtained through a false identity,” said Mr. CUOMO. “Our investigators spent over a year monitoring the conspirators and tirelessly compiling evidence to expose these illegal activities. I applaud their hard work, which was a critical part of this investigation and essential in uncovering these crimes.”

Assistant United States Attorneys LISA ZORNBERG and ELIE HONIG, and Assistant Attorney General MERYL LUTSKY -- who is designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in this case -- are in charge of the prosecution. The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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