DA Vance and Commissioner Bratton Announce Charges Against ID Thieves Accused of Obtaining Additional Credit Cards on Victims’ Accounts


April 12, 2016

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton today announced the indictment of six individuals in connection with an identity theft and larceny scheme that involved the use of credit cards obtained in victims’ names and unauthorized purchases of merchandise from major retailers and department stores. The defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Grand Larceny in the Second, Third, and Fourth Degrees, as well as Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, among other charges. 

“The consequences of having personal information stolen and used for unlawful purposes can take years for victims to sort out,” said District Attorney Vance. “As alleged in the indictment, the defendants took over victims’ credit card accounts and phone numbers, preventing many from addressing the fraud associated with their accounts, and used the information to coordinate a comprehensive criminal operation affecting individual victims, major banks, and commercial retailers. I thank our law enforcement partners for their assistance with the investigation, and in particular, I would like to recognize the valuable contributions of the NYPD Financial Crimes Task Force.”

“As alleged, these individuals participated in a fraudulent operation that systematically circumvented identity theft safeguards, resulting in the take-over of victims’ credit accounts and the illegal purchase of hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods,” said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton. “Referred to as quarterbacks, these defendants now find themselves arrested and charged for their alleged criminal actions thanks to formidable defense put forth by the Financial Crimes Task Force and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. I commend them for their efforts in this case.”  

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, between September 2015 and January 2016, the defendants engaged in a credit card fraud and larceny scheme that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud and affected multiple financial institutions, including Capital One Bank, Citibank, Barclays Bank, Discover, Chase Bank, and HSBC Bank, as well as several major retailers and department stores. As part of the scheme, individuals known as “quarterbacks” obtained victims’ personal information—such as names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers—and used the information to submit fraudulent credit card applications and obtain credit cards in victims’ names through a process commonly known as an account take-over, through which the defendants were able to gain control of victims’ accounts.

During an account take-over, the defendants impersonated identity theft victims, contacted their banks online or by phone, claimed that their credit cards had been lost or stolen, and requested that replacement cards be mailed to a new address specified by the defendants. In some instances, the defendants also requested that the names of co-conspirators be added to legitimate accounts as authorized users, or used stolen information to submit fraudulent applications for new credit cards in victims’ names. 

In order to prevent identity theft victims from becoming aware of the fraud, the defendants ran background checks on their victims, obtained victims’ credit reports and contact information, and redirected calls to victims’ phones to numbers controlled by the defendants, allowing the defendants to circumvent certain safeguards against fraud, such as calls by service representatives seeking to verify the authenticity of a transaction or request.  

CORY CARTER, 22, is accused of acting as a “quarterback”, obtaining stolen personal information, performing background checks on victims, and ordering credit cards that were provided to co-defendants to purchase store merchandise and luxury goods from popular departments stores and retailers, including Apple, Bape, Barneys New York, Best Buy, Bloomingdale’s, Louis Vuitton, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Salvatore Ferragamo. CARTER also acted as a driver, ferried shoppers to stores, and impersonated victims over the phone when transactions triggered possible fraud alerts. 

DAVID BARNETT, 27, SHAKEEM McMILLAN, 43, SAQUAN SMITH, 23, DIA ST. FORT, 23, and CAIN TOLBERT, 21, are accused of working as shoppers and buying merchandise valued at tens of thousands of dollars, which was often intended for illicit resale.

In order to maximize the amount of money the defendants were able to spend during individual shopping trips, the defendants often called banks once a credit card limit was reached and requested additional credit extensions. In total, fraudulent credit card charges totaled losses of more than $300,000 to Capital One Bank, more than $50,000 from Citibank, more than $13,000 from Barclays Bank, more than $9,000 from Chase Bank, more than $7,000 from Discover, and additional attempted charges affecting HSBC Bank.

The indictment and arrests are the culmination of a longterm investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau and the NYPD’s Financial Crimes Task Force, which involved the use of court-ordered eavesdropping, physical surveillance, computer forensics, and extensive analysis of credit card, banking, and phone records.

Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Lane is handling the prosecution of the case, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorneys Beth Potashnick and Sophi Jacobs, and under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Roper, Deputy Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Brenda Fischer, Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Senior Cybercrime Analyst Michael Taddei and Analyst Margaret Lovric provided additional assistance with the investigation.

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD Financial Crimes Task Force and Warrants Division for their assistance with the investigation.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

Defendant Information:

DAVID BARNETT, a/k/a “Dolla”, D.O.B. 9/15/1988

Brooklyn, NY

Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts
  • Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

CORY CARTER, D.O.B. 6/17/1993

Queens, NY

Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 14 counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 4 counts
  • Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

SHAKEEM McMILLAN, a/k/a “Shy”, D.O.B. 4/24/1972

Brooklyn, NY

Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts
  • Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

SAQUAN SMITH, D.O.B. 12/30/1992

Brooklyn, NY

Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
  • Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

DIA ST. FORT, D.O.B. 8/23/1992

Brooklyn, NY

Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 5 counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

CAIN TOLBERT, D.O.B. 5/29/1994

Brooklyn, NY

Charged:

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 7 counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts

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