Stealing identities is big business for organized crime syndicates, but several recent arrests and prosecutions of alleged ID-theft rings show that authorities are taking this growing crime seriously.
Minnesota Crime Family Indicted for $4M Scheme
Twenty members of an organized crime family were indicted for a stolen smartphone and identity theft scheme that raked in more than $4 million, the Star Tribune reports.
Members of the "Mustafa Organization" stole phones or bought them with false IDs and then resold them oversees for eight years, authorities say.
At least seven of those indicted are members of the Mustafa family, while 11 associates were allegedly hired to steal the phones. Two more were indicted for reportedly moving money from the operation.
Prosecutors say Jamal Mustafa operates six cellular phone stores and is considered the patriarch of the family.
California Drug Bust Uncovers Identity Theft Ring
Roseville police arrested seven people after a drug stop uncovered an alleged identity theft ring with up to 100 victims, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Officers first pulled over a car with two suspected drug dealers inside. Along with evidence of methamphetamine sales, police say they also found stolen checks and fake ID cards. After taking suspects into custody, a search of one of their homes uncovered stolen identities and led to additional arrests.
The seven arrested were held on bail ranging from $50,000 to $605,000.
The four children in the home have been turned over to Child Protective Services.
Gang Associate Gets 13 Years for $3.5M ID Theft
A gang associate was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for his part in stealing the account information of more than 80 elderly bank customers, the LA Times reports.
Andranik Aloyan, who was found guilty for his role in a racketeering conspiracy by the Armenian Power gang, was also ordered to pay about $3.5 million in restitution.
In addition to racketeering and identity theft charges, he was also found guilty of attempted bank fraud, access device fraud and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
The stolen account information that Aloyan possessed was valued at more than $25 million.
Aloyan was one of 90 people charged in association with the Armenian Power gang's activities. Authorities say 85 defendants have pleaded guilty or were convicted.
Five Members of NY ID-Theft Ring Arrested
Four members of a New York identity theft ring are accused of stealing more than $1 million in corporate, personal and tax-refund checks, according to SI Live.
Gerald Quarles, Lancine Conde, Sylvain Gnahore, Arshid Sohail and Donald Williams have been arrested for a scam that allegedly ran from September 2011 until January of this year.
Authorities say the defendants used stolen IDs to open multiple bank accounts and then used fake West African passports and other counterfeit records to verify the accounts.
Additionally, the defendants are accused of opening accounts in names that resembled legitimate New York businesses in order to fraudulently divert checks to accounts controlled by the ring.