Bank of New York Melon Computer Tech Indicted for Identity Theft of 150 Employees and $1 Million Fraud
Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
Unlike a robbery or burglary, identity theft often occurs without the victim’s knowledge. Most identity theft victims only find out after they see strange charges on their credit card statements or apply for a loan. While prevention is always the best policy, sometimes personal information is exposed through security breaches at banks or companies with which you do business. Thus, criminal identity theft can happen to even well-prepared consumers.
While your fingerprints are unique to you and cannot be given to someone else for their use, your personal data can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands, to personally profit at your expense. In one notorious case of identity theft, the criminal, a convicted felon, incurred more than $100,000 of credit card debt, obtained a federal home loan, and bought homes, motorcycles, and handguns in the victim’s name. He even called his victim to taunt him. The criminal served a brief sentence for making a false statement to procure a firearm, but made no restitution to his victim for any of the harm he had caused. This case, and others like it, prompted Congress in 1998 to create a new federal criminal offense of identity theft.
There are many steps that you can in preventing identity theft. This article is designed to highlight some of the more important ones and make suggestions as to how you can make your identity more secure.
We’ve all heard about it, again and again, but how many of us have actually taken the steps to protect our most valuable information and identities? In numbers that increase every day, identify theft is becoming an epidemic that threatens everyone. The people committing these crimes look for personal information, such as bank account numbers, credit card information, names, addresses, and Social Security numbers. Armed with this sensitive information, these thieves can put it all to work, setting up fake bank accounts, getting credit cards in your name, ordering merchandise online, and even filing for bankruptcy in a false name.
While prevention is always the best policy, sometimes personal information is exposed through security breaches at banks or companies with which you do business. The point is, identity theft can happen to even the most well-prepared consumers.
Checking your credit report is the best way to detect criminal fraudulent activity done in your name. Evidence of identity theft typically comes in the form of fraudulent or inaccurate information on your credit report, such as incorrect addresses, name, initials or Social Security number.
Here are some other signs of identity theft:
• Failing to receive bills or other mail related to your accounts (an identity thief may have taken over your account and changed the billing address).Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply.
• Unexpectedly being denied credit or being offered less-favorable credit terms than expected.
• Getting calls from debt collectors or businesses about debts or charges you cannot explain.
• Strange charges and debts on your accounts that don’t make sense or on accounts you didn’t open.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office issued a press release involving the criminal arrest and indictment of defendant, a computer technician employed by the Bank of New York Melon. The 138 count Identity Theft and Grand Larceny indictment accuses the defendant of stealing the identities of 150 bank employees while perpetrating a $1.1 million dollar fraud. The fraud and thefts were alleged to have transpired from 2001 through 2009.
It is alleged that the victims of these crimes were many co-workers of defendant who worked in the information technology group of Bank of New York Melon. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, defendant “opened over 30 bank and brokerage accounts in their identities with several financial institutions, including E*Trade, Fidelity, Citi, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual. These accounts served as dummy accounts for the purpose of receiving stolen funds. Defendant then stole money from the bank accounts of charities and non-profit organizations and funneled it into the dummy accounts, later withdrawing the stolen funds or transferring them to a second layer of dummy accounts.”
Much of the money that defendant is alleged to have stolen was used to purchase goods and ship them to Nigeria as well as to cover his personal expenses such as rent and credit card bills. Moreover, it is alleged that defendant purchased $100,000 in USPS money orders after transferring funds through the fraudulent accounts.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, the police executed a search warrant at defendant’s apartment on April 30, 2009. There, “investigators found dozens of Bank of New York employees’ credit reports on his computer, along with many other documents containing personal identifying information of more than 150 Bank of New York employees. In a storage locker defendant rented, the investigative team found notebooks containing hundreds of names, social security numbers, account numbers, and other personal data, along with numerous credit cards in Bank of New York employees’ names. Investigators also recovered $30,000 in cash from defendant’s apartment. Defendant was arrested in the course of the search warrant execution, and has remained in custody since.
The Grand Jury indicted defendant on one count of Grand Larceny in the First Degree (punishable by up to 8 and 1/3 to 25 years in prison), 138 counts of counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree (punishable by up to 2 and 1/3 to 7 years in prison), one count of Money Laundering in the First Degree (punishable by up to 8 and 1/3 to 25 years in prison), one count of Computer Tampering in the First Degree (punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in prison), two counts of Money Laundering in the Second Degree (punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in prison), three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in prison), two counts of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (punishable by up to 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in prison), and one count of Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information in the Second Degree (punishable by up to 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in prison).
Certainly, it is not favorable to the defendant that a search warrant executed at his home revealed an abundance of personal information belonging to employees of the Bank of New York Melon. Moreover, the defendant’s IP address was likely tracked to a particular provider and then ultimately to his account (or an account used by him.) Certainly, others could have had access to his account and computer. Additionally, there are legal arguments to be made and potential challenges to the search warrant. However, regardless of the approach to this case, defendant has a long road ahead of him and needs to decide the best defense to the accusations and implement that defense immediately.
Some commercial, fee-based services promise to monitor your credit reports for suspicious activity and alert you to changes. Not all are created equal and some of them are simply not worth the money. Do your homework and check out the company with the Better Business Bureau or state Attorney General if in doubt to see if they have received any consumer complaints.
If you are a victim of identity theft, you will need the help of a New York Criminal Defense Attorney and New York Theft Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates.