The Manhattan District Attorney's office announced on Wednesday the indictments of 39 individuals accused of operating a "debit card cracking" ring between January 2013 and April 2017. The defendants, most of whom operated out of Staten Island, allegedly used social media sites to get "young people" to participate in the scam, which prosecutors say resulted in up to $2.5 million in fraud.
According to the DA's office, the individuals charged are predominantly in their 20s but range in age from 18 to 31. They are accused of using social media sites to recruit people to open bank accounts into which scammers could deposit fake checks. Account holders would then withdraw money using their debit cards before the banks, which included Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Santander, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo, noticed the checks were fake.
"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,” District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said in a statement. Vance noted that scammers advertised the scheme as easy money, tricking unsuspecting youths.
"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," Vance said. "You will not get to keep the money, and you could end up in jail."
The indictment identified six ringleaders: Oluwarotimi Oredugba, 22; Nathaniel Williams, 23; Joshua Best, 22; Jubrim Johnson, 20; Davar Valentine, 23, and Dennis Reynolds, 22. Other named individuals include employees of check-cashing locations that stole real bank account information, defendants who created counterfeit checks, and "recruiters" who got young people to open fake bank accounts using their real information. Suspects who opened the bank accounts were also charged.
Charges include Enterprise Corruption, Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degrees, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, and Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree.