Four men were arrested Thursday for using stolen personal information to create bogus identities as part of a scheme to defraud banks of millions of dollars, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carepenito said.
Shahid Akhtar, 42, of Linden; Tassadiq Hussain, 70, of Sayreville; Asif Ali, 39, of Carteret; and Mohammad Mushtaq, 54, of Valley Stream, New York are each charged with one count of conspiring to defraud financial institutions. They were scheduled to appear in Newark federal court Thursday.
Authorities say the four obtained valid Social Security numbers, dates of birth, drivers license numbers and other information as part of the scheme. The men would then combine some actual information, such as a Social Security number, with a fake birthdate.
The names and Social Security numbers of children -- combined with a fake birth date making it appear as though they were adults -- were often used to create false identities, authorities said.
The four suspects used these fake identities to obtain credit cards, which were kept in good standing long enough to establish a high credit score. Then the men allegedly “busted out” the cards, running up huge debts on them that were never repaid.
Another element of the scam involved the creation of fake companies that charged hundreds of thousands of dollars with the cards, cash that was deposited in bank accounts opened in the names of the fake companies and later withdrawn. The men often leased mailboxes in New Jersey, New York and elsewhere as addresses for the fake companies.
The scheme netted the men at least $2.5 million, authorities said.
If found guilty they each face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million or more.
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