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DA: 5 major credit unions targeted in 'massive' loan fraud.

Byline: Adina Genn

Five people have been charged in what officials are calling a "massive credit union loan fraud ring."

These individuals tried to steal more than $1 million, according to Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Philip Bartlett.

At least five major credit unions, including Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union, and hundreds of individuals were allegedly targeted.

Officals say that Dacson Sears of Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, the operation's alleged ringleader, also owns a credit repair consultancy. He is charged with two counts of second-degree grand larceny, three counts of first-degree identity theft and first-degree scheme to defraud. Bail was set at $250,000 bond or $125,000 cash and if convicted of the top charge, he could spend as many as five to 15 years in prison.

Also charged were Nyantakyi Boateng of Perth Amboy, NJ; Konstantinos Toikas of Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn; Amber Mantock of Astoria, Queens; and Summer Aboushady of Jackson Heights, Queens.

"Over the course of a year these defendants allegedly operated a highly sophisticated and organized loan and identity theft ring," Singas said in a statement. "The effects of this type of fraud are devastating for those who have to reclaim their identities and the banks that have to recoup financial losses."

Bartlett said that "'gang' of thieves conspired to steal financial DNA of their unknowing victims and manipulate financial institution's lending practices to greedily pad their pockets. Due to the extraordinary efforts of law enforcement, we were able to uncover their crimes and bring the defendants to justice, putting an end to their lies and thievery."

Officials said that since around February 2018, Sears filed more than 100 credit union loan applications at Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Digital Credit Union, Comtrust Federal Credit Union and Navy Federal Credit Union.

He allegedly used hundreds of stolen identities of people with good credit. The ring allegedly created profiles of their information, ran their credit reports and obtained additional information about the victims. In many instances, the victims were targeted through various sources that include school and hospital websites.

Sears is also charged with opening credit cards in the victims' names.

LIBN was unable to reach Camille Russell, Sears' attorney, for comment.

Members of the ring allegedly took out loans that ranged from $7,500 to $35,000. These loans were filed electronically under the stolen identities, and include the victims' names and social security numbers, officials said. This scheme often included a money order used to open the loan, and once the credit union approved it, the loan money was deposited into bank accounts opened in the victims' names.

Officials say Abooshady, while working as a banker at Capital One, allegedly opened account information and sold it to the other members of the ring. She allegedly also opened accounts for Sears in the names of the stolen identities so that Sears could have loan proceeds deposited into the accounts.

Sears, Boateng, Mantock and Toikas are also alleged to have withdrawn the loan proceeds from ATMs. They then spent the money on car loans, rent and airline tickets. Sears and Boateng also opened accounts with Aboushady's assistance. Boateng and Toikas also deposited loan proceed checks into bank accounts controlled by the ring, officials said.

The ring allegedly stole $250,000, though investigators are still sorting through evidence.

Officials learned of the scheme when credit unions realized that some loans were in arrears, and when credit union employees determined that clients they thought they lent money to were actually identity theft victims and had yet to know that their identities were stolen.

Now, officials are actively working with all of the known victims to review and repair the damage to their credit. Anyone who thinks they may be a victim is urged to contact the NCDA's Financial Crimes Bureau at 516-571-2149.

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Publication:Long Island Business News
Date:Mar 1, 2019
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