Illegal international credit card ring busted, losses estimated at $200 million

Credit cards

A total of 18 people have been arrested in association with a scam that used more than 25,000 fraudulent credit cards. Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images

New Jersey, Feb 6 (IANS) A massive credit card scam spanning 28 U.S. states and eight countries, including India, could involve at least five South Asian suspects.

A total of 18 people have been charged by U.S. federal prosecutors in the case, which revolves around the use of more than 25,000 fraudulent credit cards, leading to illegal spending of more than $200 million. The money was wired to locations in Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Romania, China and Japan, prosecutors said.

“The defendants are part of a massive international fraud enterprise involving thousands of false identities, fraudulent identification documents, doctored credit reports and more than $200 million in confirmed losses,” FBI Special Agent James Simpson said in court records.

The scheme involved three basic steps: The defendants allegedly created thousands of fake identities, pumped up the credit histories of those fictitious people and then racked up charges on fraudulently obtained credit cards.

The proceeds, authorities said, were used for luxury automobiles, electronics, spa treatments, high-end clothing and millions of dollars in gold. Authorities said the fraudsters also stockpiled large sums of cash and approximately $70,000 in cash was found in one defendant’s oven.

Though the scheme targeted credit card companies, Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, said customers everywhere could feel the impact.

“Through their greed and their arrogance, the individuals arrested today and their conspirators allegedly harmed not only the credit card issuers, but everyone who deals with increased interest rates and fees because of the money sucked out of the system by criminals acting in fraud rings like this one,” Fishman said.

The defendants, including the alleged ringleaders, Babar Qureshi and Muhammad Shafiq, are due to make their initial court appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in a Newark federal court Wednesday.

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