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Document and Benefit Fraud
07/27/2012

2 defendants plead guilty and 4 others are sentenced in identity theft ring

NEWARK, N.J. — Two individuals pleaded guilty and four others were sentenced in Newark federal court in connection with their roles in a large-scale identity theft scheme.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents along with agents of the FBI, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

According to court documents, Sang-Hyun Park, aka "Jimmy," was the leader of a criminal enterprise that operated in Bergen County, N.J., and elsewhere, that engaged in identity theft and financial fraud. Park pleaded guilty Jan. 9, 2012, and is awaiting sentencing. Park and his co-conspirators obtained Social Security cards beginning with "586." These Social Security cards were issued by the United States to individuals, usually from China, who were employed in American territories. The enterprise sold these Social Security cards, together with genuinely issued or counterfeit driver's licenses, to its customers for a fee. Members of the enterprise engaged in the fraudulent "build-up" of credit scores associated with the Chinese identities. They did so by adding the Chinese identity as an authorized user to the credit card accounts of various co-conspirators who received a fee for this service – members of the enterprise's credit build-up teams. By attaching the Chinese identities to these existing credit card accounts, the teams increased the credit scores associated with the Chinese identities to between 700 and 800. After building the credit associated with these identities, Park and his co-conspirators directed, coached and assisted his customers to open bank accounts and obtain credit cards. Park and his co-conspirators then used these accounts and credit cards to commit fraud. In particular, Park relied on several collusive merchants who possessed credit card processing, or swipe, machines. For a fee, known as a "kkang fee," these collusive merchants charged the fraudulently obtained credit cards, although no transaction took place. After receiving the money into their merchant accounts from the credit cards related to these fraudulent transactions, the collusive merchants gave the money to Park and his co-conspirators, minus their "kkang fee."

Hyo-II Song, aka "Daniel", 49, Fort Lee, N.J., was sentenced Friday, to 65 months in prison, ordered to pay $1.08 million in restitution and sentenced to three years supervised release. Song pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden Feb. 10, 2012, to a three-count Information that charged him with unlawfully producing identification documents, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Hyun-Yop Sung, aka "James", 43, of Carlstadt, N.J., was sentenced by Judge Hayden to 45 months in prison, ordered to pay $145,576.27 in restitution and sentenced to three years supervised release.

Sung pleaded guilty Jan. 25, 2012, to a two-count Information that charged him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce an identification document and commit credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Young-Hee Ju, aka "Stephanie," 43, of Closter, N.J., pleaded guilty before Judge Hayden to an Information charging her with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and counterfeit identification documents, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Ju faces a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison on count one and a two-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment on count two. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2012.

Alex S. Lee, 44, of Palisades Park, N.J., was sentenced by Judge Hayden to six months home confinement, three years probation and ordered to pay $118,891 in restitution. Lee pleaded guilty Feb. 6, 2012, to an Information charging him with conspiracy to unlawfully produce an identification document and false identification document, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Yong Kim Lee, 57, of Linden, N.J., pleaded guilty to an Information that charged her with conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents and counterfeit identification documents, credit card fraud and aggravated identity theft. Lee faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2012.

Kang-Hyok Choi, of Valley Stream, N.Y., was sentenced by Judge Hayden to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to an Indictment charging him with credit card fraud. Choi is currently serving a 75-year sentence in New Jersey related to a triple homicide, and his federal time was ordered to run concurrent with his state time.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.