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Six Busted By ICE In Cell Phone Fraud Scheme With Hub In Westchester

Six people were busted in Mount Vernon by ICE as part of a wide-ranging cellphone fraud ring.
Six people were busted in Mount Vernon by ICE as part of a wide-ranging cellphone fraud ring. Photo Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Six people were arrested Friday in a Westchester hub of a massive $1 million cell phone fraud scheme uncovered by an ICE task force.

The six are part of 12 people busted by ICE and Homeland Security, following a long-term investigation into the scheme that operated a hub out of a Mount Vernon apartment, according to ICE officials.

The investigation, worked by HSI special agents and task force members from NYPD and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, uncovered a nationwide fraud conspiracy that accessed more than 3,300 customers’ cellphone accounts, fraudulently obtained more than 1,200 cellphones, and caused losses exceeding $1 million, said ICE officials.

“Those arrested today were allegedly part of a fraud network operating in New York, the Dominican Republic and the Darknet," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York.

"They traveled to 30 states to obtain cellphones that were later sold through fencing operations in the Bronx,” he added.

As part of the fraud, ring members would buy cellphone customers’ personal information over the dark web that allowed them to hack into the customer’s account and open accounts using social security numbers that appeared to match conspirators’ names but in fact belonged to victims.

During the investigation, the task force served a search warrant at an unidentified Mount Vernon residence where they found six of the defendants and seized 47 electronic devices, including 12 computers and a 15-minute long “How-to” video, which detailed the steps necessary to commit cellphone fraud.

Each was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

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