A Manhattan restaurant employee stole credit card information from dozens of customers and worked with accomplices to create fake credit cards and fraudulent checks in the victims' names, according to the New York County District Attorney's office.
Iesha Jackson, 29, was allegedly part of an 11-person ring who worked together to steal the identities of customers at a midtown Hale & Hearty restaurant and make fraudulent purchases and withdrawals, according to New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
The defendants stole credit card information from at least 60 victims and made tens of thousands of dollars of fraudulent purchases and withdrawals, according to charges filed last week in New York State Supreme Court.
“Determined cybercriminals will exploit any and every opportunity to steal personal information,” Vance said in a news release. "These defendants are charged with using a panoply of tricks — from skimming credit cards at a popular Manhattan food chain, to forging checks, and accessing credit reports to steal even more information from their victims.
According to the indictment, Gerald Spears, 39, allegedly provided Jackson, his girlfriend, with a credit card skimmer in the summer of 2013.
Jackson used the skimmer to steal credit card information, which she provided to Spears, Vance said. Spears then shared the stolen credit card information with two other defendants, Leonce Cunningham, 36, and Samuel Santana, 36, who helped him create fake credit cards using the information. Along with other accomplices, they used the cards to make over $90,000 in purchases, including jewelry, designer clothing and cash advances from a Yonkers casino, according to Vance.
Spears, Santana and other members of the ring also allegedly created counterfeit checks payable to an accomplice, drawing more than $50,000 from victim's bank accounts, Vance said.
Between 2011 and 2013, Santana used stolen information to order credit reports on additional victims, Vance said. Working with accomplices, he used the information he gathered to make fraudulent withdrawals from victims' accounts and open new credit cards in their names, according to Vance. The defendants made more than $20,000 in unauthorized withdrawals, Vance said.
The 11 defendants face multiple charges of identity theft, fraud, grand larceny and forgery.
Law enforcement officials advise consumers to order yearly credit reports, keep financial information secure and to not respond to unsolicited emails from strangers in order to avoid becoming victims of identity theft.