Photo Courtesy of Cardcash.com
According to the charges, an employee of Cardcash.com exclusively handled the Nathoo brothers business and allegedly bought the illegal enterprise’s gift cards—with the website earning a profit of up to 20 percent of the value of the gift cards.
By Forum Staff
A Queens County grand jury has indicted 13 suspects, including seven borough residents, for allegedly running a complex gift card “washing” scheme that generated roughly $1 million every month for two years, Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan recently announced.
The main defendants are Christopher Nathoo, 33, of Glen Oaks, and his brother, Bryan Nathoo, 30, of Dix Hills, L.I. The two men, their wives, and nine other individuals are charged in a 192-count indictment with enterprise corruption, grand larceny, conspiracy, and other crimes. As of Wednesday afternoon, Bryan, his wife, Annarissa Nathoo, 32, and two other suspects remained fugitives.
According to the charges, in late 2015, the NYPD’s Grand Larceny Division began investigating a fence—an illegal operation based in Jamaica. This fence allegedly bought gift cards purchased with phony credit cards. Christopher Nathoo was the alleged boss or owner of the operation and Bryan Nathoo was the alleged co-owner. The two allegedly paid cash for gift cards that had been purchased using fraudulent credit cards. The two are accused of re-selling those gift cards to Cardcash.com, an online gift card exchange business.
The illegal enterprise had specific roles for each individual involved: fence manager, swipers, shoppers, fence employees, money launderer and more. Swipers acquired stolen credit card numbers from the dark web and embossed the information onto blank cards. The swipers would then use these bogus credit cards at big stores, such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Target to buy legitimate store gift cards. The swipers would subsequently sell the legitimate gift cards to the fence.
According to the charges, these gift cards would then go through a “washing” process. Swipers or shoppers would go to department stores and buy merchandise, return the items for either a “cleaned” gift card or store credit—cards that are further removed from the fraudulently-purchased gift card and therefore less likely to be connected to the fraudulently-purchased one and deactivated by the bank.
According to the indictment, the Nathoo brothers allocated some of the shopping duties to their wives. Hama Nathoo, 32, allegedly used the “cleaned” gift cards for personal purchases, including obtaining Home Depot gift cards and buying items to renovate the couple’s home. Annarrisa also allegedly used “cleaned” cards to make online purchases for herself, using the gift cards to remodel the couple’s new Suffolk County home.
The shoppers allegedly were paid $10 an hour or $100 for a day’s work. The fence would pay the swipers a percentage for each gift card—the cleaner the card the more valuable the exchange.
According to the indictment, an employee of Cardcash.com exclusively handled the Nathoo brothers business and allegedly bought the illegal enterprise’s gift cards—with the website earning a profit of up to 20 percent of the value of the gift cards. At times, this employee also met with the Nathoo brothers to deliver checks from Cardcash.com. The brothers allegedly laundered the proceeds of their business through shell companies—that existed in name only—with the assistance of the manager of Uniondale Check Cashing in the Bronx. The establishment would collect a 2-percent take for each transaction, with the manager pocketing 1 percent for himself.
For the years 2016 and 2017, the operation generated approximately $1 million in profits every single month from this gift card “washing” scheme.