NYPD: Fraud Ring Recruited Mules Via Social Media

New York City police are claiming victory after smashing a multi-million-dollar financial fraud ring which is alleged to have recruited participants via enticing social media ads.

The authorities have indicted 39 people for their part in a sophisticated operation which resulted in a whopping $2.5m in fraud.

Alleged members of the ring working at two PLS Financial Services check-cashing locations on Staten Island stole legitimate customer account details, which were then passed along to others to forge checks, the authorities claimed.

The counterfeit checks were deposited in the accounts of other participants – recruited via social media – before the money was “withdrawn” via ATMs, money orders, point of sale transactions and cash-back purchases before the alarm could be raised.

These account holders were allegedly offered money in exchange for their names, dates of birth, addresses, Social Security numbers, online banking information, security details and the bank account PINs and recruited via Twitter, Snapchat and other channels.

“These defendants are accused of luring young people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to join a ‘debit card cracking’ scheme which netted more than a million dollars in cash,” said New York County district attorney, Cyrus Vance.

“Kids on social media who see posts like these—staged in hot tubs, sports cars, or among piles of cash—should know that debit card cracking is illegal, and is on law enforcement’s radar. You will not get to keep the money, and you could end up in jail.”

The group is said to have been highly organized, with several ringleaders overseeing the work of the PLS Financial Services employees, the ‘recruiters’ who lured bank account holders online, and the 'runners' who deposited the checks and withdrew funds.

In total, $2.5m in counterfeit checks was cashed and around $1m withdrawn from accounts.

NYPD detectives worked alongside Homeland Security Investigations, the US Postal Inspection Service, and prosecutors at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, to make the arrests and file the indictments, announced yesterday.

What’s Hot on Infosecurity Magazine?