FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2013
NEWARK, N.J. – A New York man today admitted his role in a large scale and sophisticated identity theft scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Young-Woo Ji, 38, Bayside, N.Y., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to an Information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions and bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and false claims. He was arrested on Sept. 16, 2010 and released on a $250,000 bail.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Ji conspired with Sang-Hyun Park, a/k/a “Jimmy,” and others to defraud banks, credit card companies, and other lenders. Ji admitted that in February 2008, he traveled to Illinois and used a Social Security card, beginning with the prefix “586” and belonging to a person with the initials F.C., to fraudulently obtain a driver’s licenses. These “586” Social Security cards were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, who were employed in American territories, such as Guam. 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. Park pleaded guilty on Jan. 9, 2012, to his role in the enterprise and is awaiting sentencing.
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 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.
After building up the credit scores associated with these identities, Park and his conspirators directed, coached, and assisted his customers to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards. Park and his conspirators then used these accounts and credit cards to commit fraud. Park relied on several collusive merchants who possessed credit card processing, or swipe, machines. For a fee, known as a “kkang fee,” these collusive merchants charged the fraudulently obtained credit cards, although no transaction took place. After receiving the money into their merchant accounts from the credit card elated to these fraudulent transactions, the collusive merchants gave the money to Park and his conspirators, minus their “kkang fee.”
Ji admitted that he used the F.C. identity to fraudulently obtain credit cards. He then used these credit cards, in the name of F.C., to fraudulently build up credit scores and credit histories for Park’s customers who had obtained “586” identities from the Park Criminal Enterprise.
Ji also admitted that he used the F.C. identity to establish a merchant account for ZZ Entertainment, Inc., a completely fictitious business. By establishing this account, Ji obtained a credit card processing machine and thereafter served as a “collusive merchant” for the Park Criminal Enterprise. Ji acknowledged that between Oct. 5, 2008, and Oct. 20, 2008, he charged $50,000 in fraudulent credit card charges through his ZZ Entertainment Corp. account and then shared portions of this fraud with Park. In total, Ji caused more than $400,000 in financial losses to bank, credit card companies, and others.
Ji admitted that he used the “586” identities that he had obtained from Park to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS. Ji admitted that he used these identities, together with fraudulent Forms W-2, to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax refunds.
Ji faces the following statutory maximums: 30 years’ in prison on the conspiracy count, two years in prison on the identity theft count and two years on the false claims count. Sentencing is scheduled for May 15, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez in Newark; IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen; the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew M. McLees; 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 the investigation leading to today’s plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
As for other members of the Park Criminal Enterprise, the charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense Counsel: James K. Grace Esq., Mount Holly, N.J.