FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – A former resident of Ridgefield, N.J., now living in Fairfax, Va., pleaded guilty today in connection with his role in a large-scale and sophisticated identity theft scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Min-Soo Son, a/k/a “Chris,” 26, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to an Information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Another member of the scheme, In-Suk Joo, 61, of Clark, N.J., pleaded guilty yesterday before Judge Hayden to an Information charging her with conspiring to purchase a social security card and use a means of identification to commit fraud.
Son and Joo were arrested on September 16, 2010, in a coordinated law enforcement takedown of 53 people in connection with widespread, sophisticated identity theft and fraud, including 41 other individuals charged with participating in one large-scale criminal enterprise.
According to documents filed and statements made in Newark federal court:
Sang-Hyun Park, a/k/a “Jimmy,” 45, of Palisades Park, N.J., is alleged to have been the leader of a criminal organization, referred to in court documents as “The Park Criminal Enterprise,” headquartered in Bergen County, N.J., with which Son and Joo conspired. The Park Criminal Enterprise 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 and the cardholders (i.e., the enterprise’s customers) charged the credit cards through fictitious companies, referred to in court documents as “Collusive Merchants,” or used them to purchase liquor, luxury items, or gift cards. These purchases were made to obtain money and property with no intention of paying the credit card charges.
In an effort to maximize the amount of money that could be extracted from the customers’ credit cards, the Park Criminal Enterprise made sham payments toward the charges from fraudulent bank accounts without sufficient funds. Before learning that the payments were bogus, the credit card companies credited the customers’ credit card accounts, allowing the Park Criminal Enterprise to make additional charges on the cards. The Park Criminal Enterprise also profited by using this tactic, known as “busting out” credit cards which were lawfully issued to cardholders.
Son admitted he conducted financial transactions on behalf of the Park Criminal Enterprise to further the scheme to “bust out” credit cards. In total, Son admitted that he was responsible for between $1 million and $2.5 million in losses sustained by banks, credit card companies, and others as a result of the Park Criminal Enterprise.
Members of the Park Criminal Enterprise obtained social security cards, most beginning with the prefix “586,” from various brokers. 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. Joo admitted that she purchased a “586” social security card and corresponding, counterfeit drivers license from Park, then used that identity to apply for credit cards issued by Chase Bank, Citibank, Bloomingdale’s and GE Money Bank/Walmart. Numerous charges were made on the fraudulently obtained cards.
At sentencing, Son faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain or loss from the offense. Joo faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for both defendants is currently scheduled for Jan. 30, 2012.
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; U.S. 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 the guilty pleas.
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 other members of the Park Criminal Enterprise against whom charges remain pending, the charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Min-Soo Son: Susan Cassell Esq., Ridgewood, N.J.
In-Suk Joo: Elton John Bozanian Esq., Palisades Park, N.J.