DA Vance: Eleven Members of ID Theft Ring Indicted for Impersonating Bank Customers and Stealing More Than $700,000


January 21, 2016

Brother of One Accused Ringleader Murdered in New Jersey

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of CHESTER TAYLOR, 30, DANIEL PERSAUD, 27, and nine others for stealing more than $700,000 from multiple banks and their customers by impersonating legitimate account holders and making fraudulent withdrawals. The defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Grand Larceny in the Second, Third, and Fourth Degrees, Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, and Identity Theft in the First, Second, and Third Degrees. [1]

“There are two hallmarks of the modern identity theft case: it intersects with traditional street crime, and it is no longer locally confined,” said District Attorney Vance. “Anyone with malicious intent can cause widespread damage to victims, and in this case, the defendants allegedly orchestrated a cross-country crime spree that resulted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud. Spanning both coasts, this scheme highlights the importance of national collaboration when it comes to combatting cybercrime and identity theft, and I thank our partners for their essential assistance with the investigation.”

Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), said: “This is yet another classic Bank Fraud scheme. Criminals who engage in these types of schemes should understand the power of collaboration. In this case, United States Postal Inspectors partnered with investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Today’s arrests are the result of this collaborative effort.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, between December 2013 and January 2015, the defendants stole more than $700,000 from customers of JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Capital One, and Key Bank by impersonating account holders, withdrawing victims’ funds, and using the accounts to purchase money orders at U.S. Post Offices. To carry out the alleged scheme, the defendants flew from New York to cities across the U.S., occasionally making multiple trips per month, and committed fraud in more than ten different states, including New York, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington.

Acting as leaders of the group, TAYLOR and PERSAUD were responsible for making travel arrangements, chaperoning co-conspirators on trips, and instructing co-defendants, whom they referred to as “soldiers”, on how to conduct fraud inside the banks.

Upon arriving at a destination, TAYLOR and PERSAUD drove their co-defendants to a series of bank branches. At each location, the defendants were instructed to impersonate legitimate account holders and initiate fraudulent transactions using forged identification and personal information provided to them by TAYLOR and PERSAUD in order to bypass security questions.

JAMES BERRY, MARIE FERRIS, DEREESE GABBIN, KEANNA HERON, FRANCESCA HUCKABY, NICOMEDES ORTIZ, NELSON RIVERA, SHANNON SANDERS, and MICHELLE WILDER are accused of entering banks, posing as account holders, and making fraudulent withdrawals; FERRIS alone impersonated more than 25 different victims and stole more than $200,000.

In total, TAYLOR and PERSAUD accompanied the so-called “soldiers” on more than 20 trips around the United States, making between $2,000 and $100,000 in fraudulent withdrawals on each trip. A search warrant executed at TAYLOR’s residence also revealed possession of forged documents, including identification, as well as travel documents and mobile phones used to call bank customer service numbers.

In a separate but related case that is being handled by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, in January 2015, Jordan Johnson—TAYLOR’s half-brother—was found murdered and left in the trunk of his car. The victim’s apartment had also been burglarized and the perpetrators stole cash, jewelry, and other items, some of which were the proceeds of crimes alleged in the present indictment.

Assistant District Attorney Daniel Holmes is handling the prosecution of the case, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Christopher Hirsch, under the supervision of 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. Former Cybercrime Analyst Meredith Foster, Cybercrime Analyst Maurice Daniel, Senior Cybercrime Analysts Michael Taddei and Christina Chen assisted with the investigation, as did Detective Investigator Michelle Moy, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Robert Muldoon.

District Attorney Vance thanked the following agencies for assistance with the investigation: U.S. Postal Inspection Service, NYPD, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Woodbury Police Department; Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Fort Lee Police Department, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Kent Police Department, Oak Brook Police Department, Wadsworth Police Department, Medina County Drug Task Force, and the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

District Attorney Vance also thanked Wells Fargo Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Capital One Bank, and Key Bank for their cooperation and assistance during 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:

CHESTER TAYLOR, D.O.B. 10/17/1985
Bronx, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony: 2 counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the Frist Degree, a class D felony, 52 counts
  • Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 6 counts
  • Identity Theft in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 3 counts
  • DANIEL PERSAUD, D.O.B. 10/16/1988

Brooklyn, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the Frist Degree, a class D felony, 36 counts
  • Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 3 counts

JAMES BERRY, D.O.B. 6/8/1961
Bronx, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts

MARIE FERRIS, D.O.B. 6/22/1965
Putnam, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 counts
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 20 counts
  • Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Identity Theft in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 1 count

DEREESE GABBIN, D.O.B. 1/11/1981
Bronx, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 7 counts
  • Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

KEANNA HERON, D.O.B. 5/15/1986
Brooklyn, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 6 counts

FRANCESCA HUCKABY, D.O.B. 1/21/1957
New York, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts

NICOMEDES ORTIZ, D.O.B. 6/25/1966
Bronx, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony: 1 count
  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 8 counts
  • Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

NELSON RIVERA, D.O.B. 2/25/1968
New York, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 4 counts
  • Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts

SHANNON SANDERS, D.O.B. 3/13/1987
Essex, NJ

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony: 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 13 counts

MICHELLE WILDER, D.O.B. 6/9/1960
New York, NY

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
  • Identity Theft in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 2 counts

###