By Forum Staff
A grand jury has indicted 11 people charging them with running a massive borough-based counterfeit credit card operation, in which they allegedly forged charge cards and made tens of thousands of dollars in purchases at stores within Queens and Long Island, as well as in New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and Maryland, between October 2016 and April 2017, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced on Friday.
Three additional individuals were summarily arrested following the execution of court-ordered search warrants.
According to Brown, eight of the indicted defendants were arraigned last Thursday on a 139-count indictment that variously charged them with the crimes of second-, third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, fourth- and fifth-degree conspiracy, petit larceny and first-degree falsifying business records. Of the remaining three defendants, one is in custody out-of-state on a separate criminal matter and two are still being sought.
Eleven of the 14 people charged are borough residents, hailing from South Ozone Park, Laurelton, Jamaica, Cambria Heights, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, and Queens Village.
Brown identified the main defendant as Ramsey “Rambo” Sutton, 23, of Ronkonkoma, L.I. Sutton is purported to be a member of the Mac Ballas, an off-shoot of the Bloods street gang. A court-authorized wiretap of Sutton’s phone and other defendants’ mobile devices allegedly revealed numerous conversations about purchasing stolen credit card information online and using the data to forge usable credit cards.
According to the indictment, investigators eavesdropped on more than nine phones which allegedly revealed Sutton and his co-defendants placing stolen credit card information on blank Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards – including those with chip technology. Armed with the phony cards, female “shoppers” were allegedly sent out on shopping sprees. The male defendants are also alleged to have shopped with the phony credit cards. The defendants allegedly purchased sought-after electronics, such as the Apple iPads and other Apple products. Between October 2016 and February 2017, “shoppers” are alleged to have purchased in excess of $50,000 worth of makeup, gift cards and other items from Sephora stores in New York, Connecticut, Virginia and Maryland. The defendants also allegedly used online financial services to purchase stolen credit card information and to transfer proceeds from their alleged illegal enterprise between each other and with other individuals.
As indicated in the indictment, the Rosedale home of defendant Jordan Clarke, 26, was used as a mill where the defendants allegedly created the forged credit cards. His home was also allegedly a gathering point at times for “shoppers” to drop off merchandise that was then distributed amongst the defendants. It is alleged that the gift cards purchased along with some of the other merchandise were sold to fences in Queens for cash.
In addition to the arrests, search warrants were executed at various locations in Queens, Brooklyn and in Ronkonkoma. The items allegedly seized include four firearms, ammunition, 81 forged credit cards, 43 oxycodone pills, 25 morphine sulfate pills, credit card faces, a NYPD-issued bullet-resistant vest panel, an expandable baton, a USB drive containing instruction manuals on how to create forged credit cards and forged drivers licenses, approximately 150 templates for credit cards, three card reader/writers, a credit card embossing machine and a manual credit card imprinter. Numerous vehicles, allegedly used in the operation of this credit card fraud ring, were also seized, including a Maserati, Ford Mustang, Jeep, BMW and G35 Infiniti.
“The defendants’ alleged crimes not only victimized department stores – costing those businesses thousands of dollars in losses – but also the consumers whose personal information were stolen and used to carry out the alleged scheme,” Brown added. “Even after the alleged culprits are prosecuted, the individual victims will still face difficulty in repairing their credit ratings and credit scores. The financial repercussions from being a victim of identity theft can last for years.”
By Forum Staff