Financial parasites: Nearly 100 Guyanese busted in the biggest credit card scam in the US
Travis Lootawan on US$675,000 cash bail
(Reprinted from the New York Post) A cast of unsavory characters from Queens was busted for allegedly manufacturing thousands of bogus credit cards and using them on massive shopping sprees and luxury vacations, The Post has learned.
The two-year investigation ended this week, as authorities smashed several fraud rings and arrested 110 people (most of them Guyanese) around the borough, according to court records and sources.
“They went everywhere — Apple stores, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, anywhere you can possible imagine,” said a law-enforcement source.
One of the rings was led by (Guyanese) Amar Singh, who was described in court papers as “overseeing the entire operation” — including an army of shoppers and fences to convert high-end goods to cash.
Singh allegedly received blank credit cards and account numbers from his contacts and had a whole crew of henchmen to help cash in with the phony plastic.
To complete the ruse, the crew allegedly forged identity cards.
Sources said that Singh employed his girlfriend, Neaj Punjani Singh, 21, as his top lieutenant — and that she would receive the high-ticket items purchased with the fake cards and funnel the cash through her personal bank account.
“They all go shopping: You go here, you go there, you buy this, you buy that,” the source said.
Both Singhs were held on $1 million bail.
The Queens District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD declined comment, citing a press conference planned for after the arrest.
Investigators had been watching the various rings for two years, according to sources.
One defendant, Carlos Plaza, 26, was using forged cards to jet down to Miami and Puerto Rico on a private jet, the sources said.
“They were partying. This was bought on stolen credit cards,” a source said.
Plaza is charged with enterprise corruption, identity theft and grand larceny.
He allegedly manufactured credit cards in his Richmond Hill home and was held on US$250,000 bail.
Investigators, who used extensive wiretaps, also came across other crimes during the probe, sources said.
Angel Quinones, a security guard with military experience, was charged with grand larceny for allegedly stealing more than $850,000 worth of computer equipment from a Citigroup location. He was held on $100,000 bail.
The parade of arrests had local bail bondsmen working overtime.
“This is a once-a-year kind of bust. These are the biggest enterprise-corruption cases we’ve seen,” said Jason Fordin, vice president of Empire Bail Bonds, noting that the only roundups of this size had involved gambling.
The credit-card fraud defendants represent “the diversity of Queens,” he said.