NYC: Hale & Hearty Customers Targeted by Credit Card Skimmers

NBC reports:

A 39-year-old Bronx man and his 29-year-old girlfriend are accused of skimming customers’ credit card numbers at the Hale & Hearty where she worked, and then going on shopping sprees with several others, spending more than $200,000.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. says 11 people are accused in the scheme that began last summer at the Hale & Hearty in midtown.

Read more on NBC.

From District Attorney Vance’s press release:

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictments of GERALD SPEARS, 39, SAMUEL SANTANA, 36, and nine additional defendants for stealing thousands of dollars by skimming credit cards from a midtown Manhattan Hale & Hearty restaurant; creating counterfeit checks; and fraudulently ordering credit reports to obtain additional information about victims from whom they had already stolen identifying information. The defendants are charged in New York State Supreme Court with Identity Theft in the First Degree, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, Grand Larceny in the Second, Third, and Fourth Degrees, and Forgery in the Second Degree, among other charges.

[…]

According to the indictment and statements made on the record in court, the defendants stole the personal identifying information of at least 60 victims and made thousands of dollars’ worth of fraudulent transactions through a multifold scheme involving three principal operations: skimming credit and debit cards; creating counterfeit checks; and accessing victims’ credit reports to steal personal identifying information.

Credit Card Skimming Scheme

According to the indictment, in the summer of 2013, SPEARS provided his girlfriend, IESHA JACKSON, with a skimming device to steal customers’ personal information at a Hale & Hearty restaurant in Manhattan where she was employed. JACKSON skimmed more than 20 credit cards each day before she returned the device to SPEARS.

According to the charges, SPEARS shared the stolen credit card information with LEONCE CUNNINGHAM, who helped SPEARS and SAMUEL SANTANA create fake cards with the information. Together, SPEARS, SANTANA, and four other defendants – MARLON ANDREW, KESHA RAMOS, CHASTITY ROSARIO, and JENNIFER LOPEZ – made more than $90,000 worth of fraudulent purchases using the credit card numbers skimmed at Hale & Hearty, including purchases of jewelry, designer clothing, and electronics and cash advances at Empire City Casino in Yonkers. The defendants also attempted to make approximately $118,000 worth of additional charges using those bank card numbers.

Counterfeit Check Scheme

According to the indictment and statements made on the record in court, between March 2013 and April 2014, SPEARS, SANTANA, and ANDREW created counterfeit checks drawn on victims’ accounts, made payable to the defendants and their accomplices. In some cases, the victims were the accomplices’ employers; the defendants copied the account information from genuine checks drawn from victims’ accounts and made the counterfeit checks out to an accomplice. The aforementioned defendants, HAWK OLIVERA, and MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ recruited and supervised others to negotiate the forged checks, including KESHA RAMOS, JENNIFER LOPEZ, and CHASTITY ROSARIO.  The group cashed and deposited more than $50,000 worth of counterfeit checks.

Credit Report Fraud

According to the indictment, between April 2011 and November 2013, SANTANA used stolen personal identifying information to order victims’ credit reports; these reports provided SANTANA with information about credit card accounts owned by the victims, as well as additional personal identifying information of the victims. Accomplices then used that stolen information to make unauthorized withdrawals from the victims’ bank accounts, open new credit card accounts in the victims’ names, and use the credit cards for fraudulent charges. Together, SANTANA and his accomplices made more than $20,000 worth of withdrawals from victims’ accounts and more than $6,000 worth of purchases using credit cards that were fraudulently opened in victims’ names.

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