Home > 2011 > Identity Theft > Big Apple Store Scam Arrests Bring ID Theft Back to Basics

Big Apple Store Scam Arrests Bring ID Theft Back to Basics

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I know, the threat of identity theft may still seem abstract to you. What does identity theft really mean, anyway? A big arrest in Manhattan may make the whole concept a bit more literal. The district attorney of Manhattan recently arrested 27 (alleged) balls of slime for taking stolen credit card numbers on a two-year shopping spree at Apple stores across the country.

The scam was moderately sophisticated. The crime ring’s founder, Shaheed Bilal, and his associates went online to a black-market website and bought the stolen names and credit card numbers of consumers, according to a press release by the Manhattan District Attorney. The ring printed the names and numbers onto blank credit cards using commercial credit card printing machines.

Then a network of “shoppers” used the counterfeit cards at Apple stores from New York to California, buying iPhones, iPads, laptops and gift cards, which were fenced for cash.

“This investigation highlights the threats posed to businesses and individuals by criminal enterprises engaged in cyberfraud and identity theft,” Brian G. Parr, Special Agent in charge of the Secret Service New York Field Office, said in a press release.

Ever wonder how somebody could steal your identity and use it to make money? This is how.

Federal agents recovered three guns and $300,000 when they arrested members of the ring. But two other facts may be even better illustrations just how successful this scam was. First: Bilal was able to keep the ring going for two years, even while he was jailed on unrelated charges. Second: (Alleged) ball of slime Anthony Hooper, one of the ring’s original shoppers, found the scam so lucrative that he left and created his own crime ring to do the exact same thing.

So I’d like to give a tip of my hat to Parr and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance. Jr. for putting these (alleged) balls of slime behind bars. I’d also like to thank them for perhaps an even bigger public service, of delivering such a technologically sophisticated but strategically simple scam to public light.

It’s a case that nearly screams: This is identity theft. It’s happening. It’s hurting real people in simple, direct ways. And we all need to be on the lookout.

Image: Rob DiCaterino, via Flickr.com

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  • pulekha

    Identity theft has become a major, major problem! And living without protection is like living in a crime infested neighborhood and not having protection on your home. You would probably at least have a really good guard dog and a fence right? Well, not protecting your identity today is the equivalent of living in that neighborhood and refusing to even lock your door. It�s so sad that it�s come to this, but there are always tradeoffs in life. Because we want better medical coverage and a nicer car we pay more to protect and insure them.
    Likewise, with something as amazing as the World Wide Web there come tradeoffs also. One tradeoff for us having access to almost everything is that others have access to almost everything about us, our information. And that includes our personal information like social security numbers, banking information and even your medical and criminal history.
    Luckily there is a lot of information out to help us understand and protect ourselves from these heartless criminals. Here is an informational website put together to help you and your family. We hope you find it helpful.

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