News and Press Releases

Four members of large scale identity theft ring plead guilty



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 1, 2011


 

NEWARK, N.J. – Four more members of a large scale and sophisticated identity theft scheme pleaded guilty today to their roles in the criminal enterprise, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

The four defendants, who were arrested on Sept. 16, 2010, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden as follows:

Dong-Won Kim, a/k/a “Andy,” 50, of Flushing, N.Y., pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification and false identification documents (Count One) and aggravated identity theft (Count Two). He faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,00 fine on Count One and a two-year mandatory minimum term of prison term on Count Two. He was released on a $250,000 bail.

Yoon-Hee Park, 56, of Flushing, pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and to commit credit card fraud (Count One) and aggravated identity theft (Count Two.). He faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,00 fine on Count One and a two-year mandatory minimum prison term on Count Two. He is currently detained.

Byung Jang, 47, of Fort Lee, N.J., pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with conspiracy to commit credit card fraud (Count One) and aggravated identity theft (Count Two). At sentencing, he faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on Count One and a two-year mandatory minimum prison term on Count Two. He is currently detained.

Kyung-Ki Kim, 50, of Edison, N.J., pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce a false identification document (counterfeit driver’s license) and to commit credit card fraud (Count One) and aggravated identity theft (Count Two). At sentencing, he faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,00 fine. He is currently detained.

Sentencing for all four defendants is scheduled for Feb. 22, 2012, before Judge Hayden.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in Newark federal court:

The four defendants were involved in a criminal organization headquartered in Bergen County, N.J., led by Sang-Hyun Park, 45, a/k/a “Jimmy,” of Palisades Park, N.J., that obtained, brokered, and sold identity documents to customers. As part of the scheme, the Park Criminal Enterprise obtained 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. The Park Criminal Enterprise sold these Social Security cards to its customers and then escorted the customers to various states to use the cards to obtain identification cards and driver’s licenses.

The Park Criminal Enterprise engaged in the fraudulent “build up” of credit scores associated with these fraudulently obtained identities. They did so by adding the 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 identities to these existing credit card accounts, the teams increased the credit scores associated with the identities to 700 to 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 the credit associated with these identities, Park and his co-conspirators directed, coached, and assisted his customers to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards. Park and his co-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 co-conspirators, minus their “kkang fee.”

Dong-Won Kim was a major supplier of Social Security cards beginning with the numbers 586 to the Park Criminal Enterprise. Dong-Won Kim admitted that he sold these Social Security cards to Sang-Hyun Park, a/k/a “Jimmy.” Dong-Won Kim also admitted that he escorted customers to Illinois where the customers used the 586 Social Security cards, altered Chinese passports, and other false documents to obtain identification cards and driver’s license. Dong-Won Kim admitted he traveled to Illinois on a least four occasions, where he fraudulently obtained identification cards and driver’s license in three different identities. On August 29, 2008, he used one of those identities to apply for and obtain a 2008 Lexus Sports Utility Vehicle from a dealership in New York. He also admitted that he used one of his fraudulently obtained identities to apply for and obtain credit cards. In his plea agreement, he acknowledged that he caused in excess of $400,000 in financial losses.

Yoon-Hee Park was a customer of the Park Criminal Enterprise. He admitted he traveled to Illinois on two occasions and obtained identification cards, using two different identities from that state. He used those identities to apply for and fraudulently obtain credit cards and a loan, resulting in excess of $400,000 in financial losses to banks and credit card companies, among others.

Byung Jang was another customer of the Park Criminal Enterprise. He admitted he purchased a Social Security card beginning with the numbers 586 and a counterfeit driver’s license from the Park Criminal Enterprise. He used those identities to apply for and fraudulently obtain credit cards, resulting in excess of $200,000 in financial losses to banks and credit card companies, among others.

Kyung-Ki Kim was a customer of the Park Criminal Enterprise. He admitted he purchased a 586 Social Security card and a counterfeit driver’s license from the Park Criminal Enterprise. In July 2010, at a bank in Fort Lee, he attempted to use this identity to open an account. When he presented the counterfeit driver’s license to the bank teller, the bank contacted local law enforcement and Kim was arrested. He also acknowledged that he and members of the Park Criminal Enterprise “busted out” his own personal credit cards, resulting in significant financial losses to banks and credit card companies.

As for Sang-Hyun Park and other members of the Park Criminal Enterprise with pending cases, the charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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; Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting 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 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.

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Defense counsel:

Dong-Won Kim: Benjamin Choi Esq. and John J. Fahy Esq., Rutherford, N.J.
Yoon-Hee Park: Michael V. Calabro Esq., Newark
Byung Jang: Paulette Pitt Esq., Perth Amboy, N.J.
Kyung-Ki Kim: Ruth M. Liebesman Esq., Teaneck, N.J.

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