News and Press Releases

Defendants in large scale identity theft ring plead guilty and are sentenced



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2011


 

NEWARK, N.J. – Two individuals pleaded guilty and three others were sentenced this week in Newark federal court in connection with their roles in a large scale and sophisticated identity theft scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Another individual pleaded guilty and was sentenced for his role in a similar, but separate, scheme.

According to documents filed in these cases and statements made court:

Sang-Hyun Park, a/k/a “Jimmy,” was the leader of a criminal enterprise (the “Park Criminal Enterprise”) that operated in Bergen County, N.J., and elsewhere, that engaged in identity theft and financial fraud. Park pleaded guilty on Jan. 9, 2012, and is awaiting sentencing. Park and his co-conspirators obtained Social Security cards beginning with “586.” These Social Security cards were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, who were employed in American territories. The Park Criminal Enterprise sold these Social Security cards, together with genuinely issued or counterfeit driver’s licenses, to its customers for a fee. Members of 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.

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. In particular, 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 cards related to these fraudulent transactions, the collusive merchants gave the money to Park and his co-conspirators, minus their “kkang fee.”

Hyo-Il Song, a/k/a “Daniel”

Song, 49, Fort Lee, N.J., was sentenced today, to 65 months in prison, ordered to pay $1.08 million in restitution and sentenced to three years supervised release. Song pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden on Feb. 10, 2012, to a three-count Information that charged him with unlawfully producing identification documents, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Judge Hayden imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

Between July 2007 and March 2009, Song traveled to various states, including Illinois, Tennessee and Pennsylvania and, using four different “586” Social Security cards, obtained driver’s licenses and identification. Song used these fraudulently obtained identities to apply for and receive credit cards and open bank accounts. He acted as a collusive merchant for the Park Criminal Enterprise. Song used his fraudulent identities to establish merchant bank account at financial institutions on behalf of 153 Samsung DC Inc. and 90 You and Me. Both companies were fictitious and neither sold goods nor provided services. After fraudulently establishing these merchant accounts, Song obtained credit card machines and, together with Park and other co-conspirators, charged fraudulently obtained credit cards through the machines. After the funds from these fraudulent transactions were wired into Song’s merchant accounts for 153 Samsung DC and 90 You and Me, he withdrew the cash and shared it with his co-conspirators. In total, Song caused in excess of $1 million in losses to banks, credit card companies, and others.

Hyun-Yop Sung, a/k/a “James”

Sung, 43 , of Carlstadt, N.J., was sentenced by Judge Hayden today to 45 months in prison, ordered to pay $145,576.27 in restitution and sentenced to three years supervised release. Sung pleaded guilty on Jan. 25, 2012, to a two-count Information that charged him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce an identification document and commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Sung was a customer of the Park Criminal Enterprise. Sung purchased a “586" Social Security card. He then used this Social Security card and other documents to fraudulently obtain a driver’s license in Illinois. Sung used this fraudulently obtained identity to apply for and obtain credit cards from various banks and stores. In total, Sung caused more than $120,000 in losses to banks, credit card companies, and others.

Young-Hee Ju, a/k/a “Stephanie”

On July 23, 2012, Ju, 43, of Closter, N.J., pleaded guilty before Judge Hayden to an Information charging her with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and counterfeit identification documents and credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Ju faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison on Count One and a two-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment on Count Two. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2012.

Ju admitted that she obtained and provided “586” Social Security card to customers of the Park Criminal Enterprise, including an individual posing as a customer who was cooperating with law enforcement. Ju used this Social Security card and other documents to fraudulently obtain a driver’s license in Illinois. She used this fraudulently obtained identity to apply for and obtain credit cards from various banks and stores and to obtain a $40,000 loan to purchase a 2009 Lexus. In total, Ju caused more than $2.5 million in losses to banks, credit card companies, and others.

Alex S. Lee

On July 25, 2012, Lee, 44, of Palisades Park, N.J., was sentenced by Judge Hayden to six months home confinement, three years probation and ordered to pay $118,891 in restitution. Lee pleaded guilty on Feb. 6, 2012, to an Information charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce an identification document and false identification document and to commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Beginning in mid-2008, Lee obtained two “586” Social Security cards from the Park Criminal Enterprise, and used these identities to fraudulently obtain a driver’s license in Pennsylvania. He also obtained a counterfeit driver’s license from the Park Criminal Enterprise. Lee used these fraudulently obtained and counterfeit identity documents to obtain credit cards for the purpose of committing fraud. In total, Lee caused more than $120,000 in losses to banks, credit card companies, and others.

Yong Kim Lee

On July 25, 2012, Lee, 57, of Linden, N.J., pleaded guilty to an Information that charged her with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and counterfeit identification documents and credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Lee faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2012.

Lee admitted that she conspired with Sang-Hyun Park and others to “bust out” the credit cards of another individual. In total, Lee caused more than $70,000 in financial losses to banks and credit card companies.

Kang-Hyok Choi

Today, Kang-Hyok Choi, of Valley Stream, N.Y., was sentenced by Judge Hayden to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to an Indictment charging him with credit card fraud. Choi is currently serving a 75-year sentence in New Jersey related to a triple homicide, and his federal time was ordered to run concurrent with his state time.

Choi admitted that he obtained two “586” Social Security cards and then used these identities to obtain driver’s licenses in Illinois. Thereafter, he used these identities to fraudulently obtain credit cards, and he then “busted out” these credit cards. Choi’s criminal conduct was not alleged to be associated with the Park Criminal Enterprise.

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 Acting Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur; the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew 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 this week’s pleas and sentencings.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato of the Office’s 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.

12-282

Defense counsel:

Song: Peter R. Willis and Charles Alvarez Esqs., Jersey City
Sung: William Michael Murphy, Jr. and Jason Orlando Esqs., Jersey City
Ju: Lorraine Gauli-Rufo Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark
Alex S. Lee: Joshua Lim Esq., Palisades Park, N.J.
Choi: Chester Keller Esq., First Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark

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