A Bayside man and another from New Jersey were sentenced to prison for their roles in a large-scale identity theft scheme, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey said.
Young Woo Ji, 39, of Bayside, was sentenced before U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden in Newark federal court to 65 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.
Sang-Kyu Seo, 64, of Palisades Park, N.J., was given three years in prison for his role in the scheme.
Ji had previously pleaded guilty before the judge to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting financial institutions, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and false claims, the U.S. attorney said.
Seo pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and false identification documents, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and tax evasion.
Seo was the owner and operator of a North Bergen-based salon and Pier 7 Corporation, a purported small business located in Palisades Park.
The defendants conspired with another defendant, Sang-Hyun Park, and others to obtain a Social Security card beginning with the prefix “586” for another individual, Fishman said.
These “586” cards were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, who were employed in American territories, such as Guam.
Park is alleged to have been the leader of a criminal organization headquartered in Bergen County that obtained, brokered and sold identity documents to customers for the purpose of committing credit card, bank and tax fraud.
He pleaded guilty to his role in the enterprise on Jan. 9, 2012 and is awaiting sentencing.
The organization engaged in the fraudulent build-up of credit card scores associated with the Chinese identities by adding the persons on the cards as authorized users to the credit card accounts of various co-conspirators who received a fee for their services.
By attaching the Chinese identities to the existing credit card accounts, the enterprise increased the credit scores associated with the identities to between 700 and 800.
The members of the criminal organization did not know the real person to whom the identity belonged nor any of the customers who purchased the identities, the U.S. attorney said.
After building up credit, Park and his associates directed, coached and assisted the customers in opening bank accounts and obtaining credit cards, which they then used to commit fraud.
Ji conspired with Park and others to defraud banks, credit card companies and other lenders. He admitted that in February 2008, he traveled to Illinois and used a “586” Social Security card to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses and credit cards.
He also admitted to establishing a merchant account for ZZ Entertainment Inc., a fictitious business.
Between Oct. 5 and Oct. 20, 2008, he charged $50,00 in fraudulent credit card charges through ZZ Entertainment’s account and shared portions of the money with Park.
In total, the Bayside resident caused more than $400,000 in financial losses to banks and credit card companies.
In addition to their prison terms, Ji was given three years of supervised released and ordered to pay $187,874 in restitution, while Seo received three years of supervised release and must pay $1.2 million.
The defendants were arrested following a criminal investigation by the Internal Revenue Service.