FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – Chi-Won Jeon of North Bergen, N.J., admitted today that she conspired to use fraudulently obtained social security numbers and driver’s licenses to commit fraud, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Jeon, 45, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Katharine S. Hayden to an Information that charged her with one count of conspiracy to unlawfully produce driver’s licenses and commit credit card fraud; and one count of aggravated identity theft. Jeon was arrested on September 16, 2010, in a coordinated law enforcement takedown of 53 individuals in connection with widespread, sophisticated identity theft and fraud, including 43 individuals charged along with Jeon with participating in one large-scale criminal enterprise.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in Newark federal court:
Jeon conspired with Sang-Hyun Park, a/k/a “Jimmy,” Young-Hee Ju, a/k/a “Stephanie,” and others to obtain two social security cards beginning with the prefix “586.” Social security cards with that prefix were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, who were employed in American territories, such as American Samoa, Guam, and Saipan. Park is alleged to have been the leader of a criminal organization headquartered in Bergen County, N.J. that obtained, brokered, and sold identity documents to customers for the purpose of committing credit card fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud, and other crimes.
The Park Criminal Enterprise engaged in the fraudulent “build up” of credit scores associated with the Chinese identities. They did so by adding the Chinese identity as an authorized user to the credit card accounts of various co-conspirators who received a fee for this service – members of the enterprise’s credit build up teams. By attaching the Chinese identities to these existing credit card accounts, the teams increased the credit scores associated with the Chinese identities to between 700 and 800. The members of the build up teams knew neither the real person to whom the identity belonged nor virtually any of the customers who had purchased the identities.
Jeon admitted that she obtained social security cards through Ju and others. She then used these fraudulently obtained identities to obtain driver’s licenses in Illinois and Pennsylvania. After another co-conspirator fraudulently built up the credit scores associated with these identities, Jeon used them to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards which she and others used to commit fraud.
For example, in early January 2009, Jeon used a fraudulently obtained credit card to purchase approximately $9,000 in diamonds from a Macy’s department store. Jeon also escorted Park’s customers to banks so they could use fraudulently obtained identities to open bank accounts for the purpose of committing fraud. In total, Jeon and her co-conspirators obtained in excess of $200,000 through the scheme.
At sentencing, Jeon faces maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain or victim loss from the offense, on the conspiracy charge, and a mandatory minimum of two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft charge. Sentencing is scheduled for July 12, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff; the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Peter T. Edge; and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor John L. Molinelli and the Office’s Chief of Detectives Steven Cucciniello for their work leading to today’s plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara R. Llanes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division and Anthony Moscato of the Office’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
As for Park and Ju, the charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Misha Lee, Hackensack, N.J.